Poll: Israelis back settlements, say 'occupation' is a myth

Two-thirds of Israeli Jews say Israeli control of Judea, Samaria is not 'occupation', say settlements aren't a obstacle to peace.

David Rosenberg ,

Cave of Machpela
Cave of Machpela
Jewish Community of Hevron

Israeli Jews back expansion of the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, a new poll shows, and by a two-to-one margin believe Israel’s return to the heart of the historic Jewish homeland does not constitute “occupation”.

According to a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute’s Guttman Center and Tel Aviv University, after 50 years since the liberation of Judea and Samaria a majority of Israeli Jews support Jewish settlement in the area, though they remain evenly split on whether Israel sovereignty should be applied.

Just 31.1% of Israeli Jews say Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria constitutes an “occupation” – a legal term that has in recent years become used by Israel’s opponents and the far-left to delegitimize Jewish life in the area.

By comparison, 62.2% of Israeli Jews say there is no occupation of Judea and Samaria.

Israeli Arabs, on the other hand, overwhelmingly feel that Jewish presence in the area does constitute occupation, with 91% agreeing that it is “occupation”, compared to just 5% who said there is no occupation.

A slimmer majority of Israeli Jews say it is wise for Israel to expand Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, with 50.8% in favor and 41.1% opposed. Just 20.4% of Arab Israelis are in favor, with 68.6% opposed.

Most Israeli Jews (55.8%) believe Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are not an obstacle to peace, while just 38.2% say they are an obstacle to peace.

Fifty years since the Six Day War and the liberation of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria from Jordanian occupation, a majority of Israelis say they agree with Israel’s decision at the time not to surrender those areas for the promise of peace from Israel’s Arab neighbors.

Just 27% of Israeli Jews say Israel should have offered a full return to the pre-1967 boundaries in exchange for peace treaties, while 65.1% say they would have opposed such a move. Israeli Arabs were more evenly divided, with 46.4% saying Israel should have been willing to return to its pre-1967 borders, while 40.6% say Israel should not have done so.

A majority of Jews (55.2%) also say Israel should have annexed all of the territories captured in the Six Day War, while 37.8% say it was better that Israel did not do so. Just 13.5% of Israeli Arabs say Israel should have annexed the areas it won in 1967, while 80% approve of it not having done so.

Israelis are almost evenly divided, however on whether Israel should today annex Judea and Samaria, with 44.4% endorsing such a move, and 45.0% expressing opposition.