x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Jewish Israelis divided over settlement removal for peace

Half are in favour of removing some settlements as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians, while 43 per cent are opposed, according to a poll released today.

JERUSALEM // Jewish Israelis are divided on the question of removing some settlements as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians, with 50 per cent in favour and 43 per cent opposed, according to the results of a poll released today.

The survey, which was conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute, found that just 28 per cent of Jewish Israelis thought the government would need to remove all settlements, including major blocs.

Israel's Arab citizens, who make up 20 percent of the population, are strongly in favour of the full removal of settlements, according to the poll which was published in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

Just under three quarters (74 per cent) of Israeli Jews support the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognise Israel as the Jewish state in exchange for renewed restrictions on settlement construction, while 79 percent of Arabs were opposed.

The Palestinians recognised Israel in 1993 but have refused to recognise its Jewish identity, fearing that doing so would compromise the right of return of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Arab citizens of Israel also oppose such recognition, along with the related demand that new citizens swear an oath of loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state", saying it amounts to discrimination.

The survey also found that almsot three quarters - 72 per cent - of Israeli Jews support US-backed peace negotiations with the Palestinians but only 35 per cent believe the talks will lead anywhere, a degree of pessimism reflected in other recent polls.

The pollsters surveyed 600 people they said were representative of the adult population of Israel and gave a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

Direct peace talks began again in early September after months of intense diplomatic efforts, but they ground to a halt later that month when an Israeli settlement-building moratorium expired.

The Palestinians have refused to return to the talks without a complete freeze on settlement construction and the Arab League has given the United States until early November to find a way out of the impasse.