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Daily Israel Report
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Should Bibi Give in to Obama? Israelis Say 'No'

A new survey shows that most Israelis see no need to give in to U.S. demands regarding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
By Maayana Miskin and Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 6/12/2009, 9:40 AM

Most Israelis do not believe that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should buckle to pressure by U.S. President Barack Obama to freeze all construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. A poll conducted this week by the Ma'agar Mochot (Brain Trust) survey firm showed that a decisive majority of the Israeli public believes there is no need to give in to America's demands. 

Of the 503 respondents to the survey, 56 percent said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not need to agree to the construction freeze, while 37 percent said he needs to give in. Another seven percent were unsure.

Respondents who defined themselves as religiously observant were the most likely to say that American demands can safely be ignored. Ninety-seven percent of religious respondents said Netanyahu does not need to accept U.S. demands, but only 42 percent of non-observant respondents said the same.

New immigrants were more likely than native Israelis or immigrants who arrived prior to 2006 to say that Israel should give in on Judea and Samaria communities. Forty-five percent of new immigrants said Israel does not need to give in, while 59 percent of native Israelis and other immigrants said the same.

Likud: Bibi, No Need to Fold
Likud voters overwhelmingly responded that Netanyahu does not need to give in to American demands. Eighty-one percent of those who voted Likud said Israel can continue building in Judea and Samaria, while only 12 percent said construction in those areas should stop. Seven percent were unsure.

Voters who supported the Kadima party were more likely than those who voted Labor to believe that Israel has no choice but to give in. Sixty-eight percent of Kadima voters said that Israel must give in, while 57 percent of Labor voters said the same. Forty-one percent of Labor voters said that Israel does not need to halt construction, while only 19 percent of Kadima voters said the same.

The majority of voters from all parties said that Israel does not need to give in to demands to relinquish sovereignty over the Old City in Jerusalem and other parts of the capital controlled by Jordan from 1948 to 1967.

Labor voters were the least likely to say that Israel could maintain sovereignty in those areas, with 57 percent saying there was no need to give in. Those who voted for hareidi-religious parties were most likely to say Israel could maintain control of those areas, with 97 percent voting to reject American demands.

Will Firm Israeli Stance Affect Ties?
Half of the respondents said that if Israel were to reject America's demands, there would be no serious repercussions on Israel's relationship with America. Thirty-two percent felt the refusal could harm ties with America, and 18 percent were unsure.

Religious respondents were most likely to believe that the demand for a construction freeze could be ignored without affecting ties. New immigrants were the least likely to feel the same, with only 18 percent saying there would be no political crisis if Netanyahu were to turn down Obama's demand.