Survey claims 31% of Israelis support annexing settlement blocs

Right-wing calls to extend Israeli law to settlements, parts of West Bank, have gathered momentum in wake of UN resolution condemning settlement

The city of Ma'ale Adumim, one of the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The city of Ma'ale Adumim, one of the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A curiously worded survey published Friday claimed that 31 percent of Israelis support the annexation of the large settlement blocs in the West Bank, with a Palestinian state being established in the remaining areas, including East Jerusalem, after right-wing politicians vowed this week to push for legislation in favor of annexation.

The survey, commissioned by Israel Radio, found that 30 percent of Israelis support a second option — “two states for two peoples,” establishing a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with Israel retaining sovereignty over the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Palestinians sovereign on the Temple Mount.

A further 39 percent chose a third option — saying they were in favor of a “one-state for two peoples” solution, with Israel annexing the entire West Bank. However, the survey did not enable a distinction in this option between those who would extend full democratic rights to the Palestinians and those who would not. The one state solution is generally supported by groups on the far-left and far-right, but who differ over its character.

Those who took part in the survey were asked to choose between those three options only. The survey, conducted by the Rafi Smith polling company, was held on December 28 and included 500 people, constituting a representative cross section of adults in Israel. The sampling error was 4.5%.

Education Minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, who has been vociferously pushing the idea of extending Israeli law over the Ma’ale Adumim settlement in a first step, told Israel Radio on Friday, “this government is adopting a policy of sovereignty and abandoning the policy of Palestine.” On Thursday, he had promised that government policy from January 20, when Donald Trump takes office as US president, would be to annex Ma’ale Adumim.

Ma’ale Adumim, one of the largest West Bank settlements, a city with a population of some 40,000, lies about five miles east of Jerusalem.

Under Bennett’s plan, Israel would annex Area C, the 60% of the West Bank where Israel retains full security and civilian control and where most of the settlements are located. The Palestinians in the remaining territory would not be absorbed into Israel, but given expanded autonomy. He stepped up his calls in the wake of the UN Security Council resolution last week denouncing settlements on territory claimed by the Palestinians for a future state, including East Jerusalem.

It’s not clear that Bennett has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support. The prime minister has publicly recommitted to the two-state solution.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu called on lawmakers not to publicly discuss annexation for the time being, saying that President Barack Obama may have other actions prepared to take against Israel on the Palestinian issue before he leaves office in three weeks.

Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have said that they look forward to working with the incoming Trump administration on reversing the UN resolution. Trump has expressed views that are more in line with the Netanyahu government. T

rump has made no express commitment to the two-state solution and has appointed an Israeli ambassador who, over the course of the presidential campaign, was outspoken on his belief that West Bank settlement activity was not an obstacle to peace and that Israel does not face a “demographic threat” to its Jewish character if it fails to separate from the Palestinians.

Trump has also pledged to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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