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Poll: Majority against Yesha Building Freeze

A majority of Israelis oppose freezing building in Judea and Samaria, and support Strategic Affairs Minister Yaalon’s plan to legalize outposts.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/26/2009, 10:22 AM

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A majority of Israelis oppose freezing construction in Judea and Samaria in return for gestures by the Arab world towards normalization with Israel. Most Israelis also believe that U.S. President Barack Obama will press for a permanent freeze on building regardless of whether the Arab nations adopt a softer stance towards the Jewish State.

The poll, carried out Sunday night by Maagar Mohot (Brain Base) Survey Institute, shows that only one-third of Israelis back a freeze on building for Jews in Judea and Samaria, compared with 52 percent who oppose it. Only one quarter of the respondents believe that President Obama will not continue to pressure Israel to “continue the freeze indefinitely regardless of what the Arabs do.”

The poll was commissioned by IMRA (Independent Media Review and Analysis), headed by Dr. Aaron Lerner.

The respondents' support for Minister Moshe Yaalon was a slap in the face for the Prime Minister, who has backed moves by coalition partner Defense Minister Ehud Barak, head of the Labor party, to demolish two dozen hilltop communities and expel their residents. The polling organization, headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz, revealed that only 24 percent do not agree with Yaalon’s desire that the Defense Minister sign papers that would remove the communities from the list of “illegal communities,” as defined by American policy.

Respondents also said that they thought Prime Minister Netanyahu’s de facto temporary freeze on new building in Judea and Samaria was improper because he did not ask the Cabinet to approve the policy.

A plurality of 41 percent also agrees that the Peace Now movement has caused damage to Israel, while only 19 percent think otherwise. Minister Yaalon earlier this month termed the group’s ideology a “virus,” a comment that caused an uproar in Israel’s mainstream media, culminating with Prime Minister Netanyahu admonishing him.

Concerning negotiations for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, 7t percent of the respondents said that the government should not release any Palestinian Authority Arab terrorist prisoners until it is proven that the soldier is alive.