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New poll finds far-right views gaining prominence in Israel

March 26, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Support for a two-state solution is at its lowest in Israel, a new poll by Haaretz has found. Only 34 per cent of respondents said that they support two states as large sections of Israeli society — including those on the left who have traditionally endorsed the international consensus — back the idea of annexing occupied Palestinian territory.

The survey was conducted among 800 Israelis: 600 Jewish citizens were polled online while 100 non-Jewish citizens and another 100 Jewish citizens were polled over the telephone. All were asked about their preferred solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict; where they stood on both a partial or full annexation of the West Bank; and what they thought about granting political rights to the Palestinians who live there.

There were many clear indications of the Israeli electorate’s hostility towards the creation of a Palestinian state. Only 28 per cent said that they opposed any kind of annexation of Palestinian territory, a view that is likely to push political parties in the coming election even further to the right in an effort to win votes.

A separate survey was conducted by the Palestine Centre for Policy and Survey Research, together with the Tami Steinmetz Centre for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, to gauge Palestinian and Israeli support for different initiatives to resolve the conflict. It found that support for the two-state solution among both Palestinian and Israeli respondents had fallen below the 50/50 mark; to exactly 43 per cent on each side, to be exact, its lowest level in two decades.

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The Haaretz survey found that far-right views are on the rise. The newspaper explained that the idea of Israel partially or fully annexing the West Bank was originally touted only by the far right, but the polls show that this extreme view is gaining broader acceptance on the centre and left. While only 28 per cent of those polled oppose any annexation, that number was higher amongst non-Jews, 35 per cent of whom said that they opposed the annexation of Palestinian territory.

Right-wing parties are often seen as the ones pushing for partial annexation, but the survey indicates that even left-wing voters who back a two-state solution don’t rule out this scenario, which is in complete contradiction of international law and the international consensus on ending the conflict.

Eighty per cent of the Israeli Labor Party voters who took part in the poll support a two-state solution, but only 41 per cent oppose any annexation of the West Bank; another 46 percent say that they support annexing Area C. Even among respondents who vote for Meretz, the most leftist Zionist party in Israel, 14 per cent are in favour of annexing Area C; another 14 per cent support annexing the entire West Bank if Palestinians are granted political rights.

Of all the parties surveyed, only Balad — an Arab party which is partnering with the United Arab List in this election — supports a two-state solution that appears to correspond fully with the international consensus whereby East Jerusalem will be the capital of a Palestinian state covering more or less the West Bank and Gaza; all Jewish settlements will be evacuated; and there will be a return to the 1967 borders, with an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. US President Donald Trump’s announcement last week that he recognises Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan makes the latter extremely unlikely to happen.

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