AIPAC Israel Israeli occupation Israeli settlements Palestinians

Poll: Growing majority of Americans oppose new Israeli settlement construction

Just in time for this weekend’s AIPAC conference and the Netanyahu-Obama meeting on May 18th, a new poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org indicates that

three-quarters of Americans think that Israel should not build settlements in the Palestinian territories. This is up 23 points from when this question was last asked in 2002.

One third of Americans show more sympathy for Israel than the Palestinians, substantially more than the 12 percent who express more sympathy for the Palestinians.

However the largest number–51 percent–expresses equal levels of sympathy for each side. The percentage expressing equal levels of sympathy is up 10 points from 2002.

Even those respondents who sympathize more with Israel feel that it should not be building settlements in the West Bank by a clear majority (64%), as do those who sympathize equally with Israel and the Palestinians (80%), and those who sympathize more with the Palestinians (96%).

“Americans are showing increasing impatience with Israel for building settlements,” comments Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org. “Even the third of Americans who sympathize with Israel more than the Palestinians oppose the settlements.”

Your move, Bibi.

10 thoughts on “Poll: Growing majority of Americans oppose new Israeli settlement construction

  1. Another meaningless poll, just like those that J-Street commissions. 99% of those polled don’t know anything about the settlements, don’t know why they are there, don’t know where they are, and don’t know anything about the history of the country. If you gave me five minutes with those polled, I am sure I could change the minds of a significant number of them. No leader of a country is going to base his policies on a questionable poll taken in another country.

  2. Yaakov…ok…convince me then.

    My one and only beef with Israel is those settlements.

    I say that without completely trusting Arab intentions–but fully understanding & sympathizing with Israeli paranoia.

    Regardless, those settlements just weaken Israel’s moral position, imo. It comes across as landgrabbing & using the Bible as a rationale for manifest destiny.

    Furthermore, what’s more important? Historical tit for tat? Or prosperity and peace?

    Israel is like a country operating from PTSD…that’s no good.

  3. They do know that they are an obstacle to reconciliation, and that a majority of the land was acquired by incremental extra-legal means.

  4. Y. Ben David,

    Please, enlighten us. Why are those settlements there?

    People seem to know that the settlements are located in Occupied Palestinian Territories.
    The “disputed” is a figure of your imagination.
    More and more people seem to know that many of those settlements are established and expanded mostly in vital areas in and surrounding East Jerusalem.

    I’m starting the clock. You’ve got five minutes.

    PM

  5. We have been over this before, but I will repeat the main points.

    (1) The Arab-Israeli conflict is NOT about the settlements in Judea/Samaria. Those territories came under Israeli control in 1967. There were massive outbreaks of Arab violence and wars in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936-9, 1947-8, 1956 and 1967, long before there were any settlements in Judea/Samaria.

    (2) According to Israeli law and international law, as understood by the international law section of the US State Department, the settlements are NOT illegal. Yes, I know there are those who disagree with this, but those opinions are not operative as far as Israel is concerned.

    (3) If the settlements in Judea/Samaria are illegal, then the Israeli presence at the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem are illegal as well.

    (4) Jews have lived continuously in Judea/Samaria/Gaza for up to 4000 years, longer than the Arabs have. They were ethnically cleansed by Arab violence up to 1948.

    (5) As I said, the crux of the Arab/Israeli conflict is the refusal of the Arabs to acknowledge the right of the Jewish people to self determination in ANY part of Eretz Israel. As far as they are concerned, Tel Aviv is an illegal settlement no less than Beit El, and they say so openly.

    (6) A withdrawal of Israel to the pre-67 lines would be an open invitation to war, just as Israels withdrawal from the Sinai in 1957 led directly to the big Six-Day War ten years later, and how the Israeli withdrawal to the pre-67 lines in Gaza led to thousands of rockets being fired on Israel and then the big “Oferet Yetzukah” war in Gaza a few months ago.

    (7) Similarly, Jerusalem can not be divided nor “shared” (this is one of the silliest Orwellian terms I have ever heard). Division of Jerusalem will lead to the Jewish areas of the city becoming a shooting gallery, as indeed happened when Israel pulled out of neighboring areas such as Beit Lehem and Beit Jallah as a result of the Oslo Agreements .

    (8) The Oslo Agreements barely mention the settlements, and they certainly do not prohibit Israel from continuing to build in them. Much of Judea/Samaria is out of bounds for new settlements as a result of the Oslo Agreements, so when they keep complaining about “expanding settlements grabbing Arab land” this is a gross oversimplification since the areas of the existing settlements are demarcated and no building is going on outside of these areas. In any event, no private Arab land that Arabs had clear title to has been used to build Jewish settlements. Yes, certain areas are disputed legally and they are being dealt with in the Israeli court system.

    (9) The only hope for peace between Israel and the Arabs is if Israel hangs on to the settlements and strengthens them. Removal of settlements is a sure recipe for continuing the conflict. The conflict will only end when the Arabs GRADUALLY come to realize that Israel (as a Jewish state) is here to stay and that means the Jews stand firm on their rights to Eretz Israel. By giving up settlements, Israel broadcasts weakness, and the Arab side says (as they said explicitly after the destruction of Gush Katif) “you see, they are weak, they are unsure, now if we keep up the pressure they will capitulate everywhere else and we will eventually get Tel Aviv as well”.

    (10) If Jews have a right to live in Tel Aviv then they have a right to live in Hevron, and if they don’t have a right to live in Hevron then they have no right to live in Tel Aviv. Yes, I can understand someone who says “you are right in theory, but we should be practical and should consider dividing the country”. Then the argument becomes one of strategy and tactics. However, people who claim to be “Zionists” and “Pro-Israel” and then go into tirades about how Jewish settlement in Judea/Samaria is “immoral” are simply being hypocrites. I will give an example: During the recent Gaza War, A B Yehoshua wrote an article criticizing Gidon Levy for his opposition to the war. Yehoshua wrote something to the effect that said: When Arab gunmen murdered Tali Hatuel and her 4 daughters in cold blood in Gush Katif, we deplored it but it was somewhat ‘understandable’ because the Arabs no doubt resent living in povery in Khan Yunis whereas within eyeshot they saw prosperous Jewish settlements so this no doubt drove them to do what they did”.
    This is what Yehoshua said. You can see that he is either totally politically blind or a total hypocrite. The Arabs of Khan Yunis look right across the Green Line to the Kibbutzim right along the border and see THEIR LAND, that THEY WERE DRIVEN OFF in 1948. They want that land back. But Yehoshua, like so many Zionist “progressives” suddenly becomes myopic. He somehow thinks the Arabs in Gaza have resigned themselves to letting the Jews steal their land in that the kibbutzim took (they are Leftist political allies of Yehoshua unlike the despised “right-wing religious settlers”) and that they are “really” only fighting to drive Israel out of Judea/Samaria/Gaza.
    In any event no Palestinian state in Judea/Samaria/Gaza could ever be viable, and the Gazans would still be in their refugee camps.
    It should be noted that the Arabs quite openly say this. Muhammed Dahlan said recently that FATAH has never recognized Israel, only the Palestinian Authority which did it for tactical reasons (i.e. to get American and EU money). HAMAS’s position is well known to everybody.
    The Arabs are not fighting for “Palestinian self-determination”, they are not fighting for the “liberation of the West Bank and Gaza”, they are fighting, as they see it, for JUSTICE which means the removal of Israel.

    In summary, the only chance for peace to come sometime in the future is for Israel to strengthen the Judea/Samaria settlements. Expelling Jews from them only makes inflames the situation and makes war inevitable.

  6. Faulty logic.

    In two respects. First, there is only very limited land that the settlements reside on that has any basis in Israeli title short of the reasoning that the removal of Jordanian claims (and claims to “Jordanian state land”) automatically transferred to become “Israeli state land”. The status of those lands are contested and will remain so until perfected under law that results in consent, not merely in assertion.

    The second piece of faulty logic rests on your assertion that “the Arabs” permanently and unconditionally do not accept Israel’s existence, and if in a treaty that constructed viable Palestinian state and consented Syrian and Lebanese borders, they they would not honor treaty obligations with green line Israel.

    The REALITY is different currently than your description of permanent Arab sentiment. Israel is in now reasonably long-standing treaty arrangements with Egypt and Jordan that have experienced strain but have NOT broken. And, that is actually a testament to the determination of some Arab states, to enter into CONDITIONAL international relations with Israel.

    It does result from their math that it is better to commonly oppose terror, and to commonly establish even token economic relations. And, the same math is applicable with Palestine and Syria.

    Further, while I agree there is reasonable doubt as to the extent of Saudi and others’ commitment to the Arab League proposal, that it was just a PR ploy, that doubt can be tested by an ACTUAL test of it.

    An actual test would require acting towards it in earnest and reviewing the results.

    Further, comparing the status quo (which is all that is proposed, not annexation thankfully) to the 67 borders, the status quo is LESS DEFENSIBLE than the 67 borders, as the wall constructs a maze with a much larger length of border currently exposed to a currently antagonistic (partially) neighbor.

    Israel would lose less lives and expend less money and human character at 67 borders.

    By 67 borders, I assume that Israel will never renounce sovereignty in some confident form over the Kotel and the Jewish portion of the walled city of Jerusalem.

    You seem to be saying, relative to security, is what Morris suggested a couple years ago reluctantly, that “maybe we should have finished the job”.

    Is that what you are saying?

    How does that position have an end game? How does it not end with Israel a permanent pariah with a permanent 20% of GDP spent on defense? And then likely bankruptcy and annihilation two generations hence?

  7. Richard-
    You stated:———————————–
    By 67 borders, I assume that Israel will never renounce sovereignty in some confident form over the Kotel and the Jewish portion of the walled city of Jerusalem.

    ———————————————–

    Sorry, but the Arabs have NOT given up claims the Kotel. According to the British White Paper that came out after the 1929 Arab riots which started when a mechitzah (partition between men and women) was set up at the Kotal, the British ruled that the Kotel was a MUSLIM holy place (where Muhammed’s horse El-Buraq was supposedly tied up during his night-visit to Jerusalem) that there is a tradition of allowing Jewish prayer there. They are insisting on this. This you treat as a minor point, but Olmert was not able to reach an agreement with Abbas precisely because of failure to get to compromises on conflicts like this in Jerusalem, even though Olmert did accept a withdrawal more or less to the pre-67 lines.

    Richard said:
    ——————————————–
    Further, comparing the status quo (which is all that is proposed, not annexation thankfully) to the 67 borders, the status quo is LESS DEFENSIBLE than the 67 borders, as the wall constructs a maze with a much larger length of border currently exposed to a currently antagonistic (partially) neighbor.

    ———————————————–

    This is not the position of the Israeli defense establishment. Even though the border between the Palestinian-controlled territories and the Jewish controlled ones, including both pre-67 Israeli territory in addition to the Judea/Samaria settlements, is a convoluted one, it doesn’t require that much manpower to man it. The most important point from the IDF’s point of view is that there is no danger of heavy weaponry being stationed there. The Eastern strategic defense line of Israel is the Jordan River which is much shorter than the border that existed before 1967. A Palestinian state would be able to get heavy weapons, rockets, artillery and the such EVEN if it was supposed to be “demilitarized” according to a peace agreement, because you can’t tell a sovereign state that it can’t have an army and that it can’t make military agreements with other states, possibly hostile to Israel. This was attempted with Germany after World War I with the Versailles Treaty and it failed miserably. Same with Cyprus which was also supposed to be “demilitarized” but which was ultimately invaded by Turkey and divided by force.

    Richard said:
    ———————————————
    How does that position have an end game? How does it not end with Israel a permanent pariah with a permanent 20% of GDP spent on defense?
    ————————————————

    First of all, I believe Taiwan spends something like that on its defense, and that doesn’t stop them from being a prosperous state. But even if peace agreements are made, Israel would not be able to reduce its defense spending. In fact, “peace” could ACCELERATE an arms race. After the Yom Kippur War, Egypt was bankrupt and they had cut their military ties with their former supplier, the USSR. By signing a peace treaty, the US began to dump large amounts of superior, modern American military equipement on Egypt, including the up-to-date Abrams tank. Western countries could say “now that there is peace, we can increase sales of weapons to the Arab contries since they are no longer threatening Israel”. You can be sure the same would happen with Syria should Israel be foolish enough to give up the Golan in return for a scrap of paper signed by Assad.

    Richard said:
    ———————————————
    The second piece of faulty logic rests on your assertion that “the Arabs” permanently and unconditionally do not accept Israel’s existence, and if in a treaty that constructed viable Palestinian state and consented Syrian and Lebanese borders, they they would not honor treaty obligations with green line Israel.

    ———————————————-

    I am sorry, but the onus is on YOU to prove that is not the situation. I told you how their internal propaganda, including that of Egypt and Jordan, is full of demonization and deligitimization of Israel and antisemitism. This shows their true intentions. If they wanted peace they would stop this. If they wanted peace they would have the King of Saudi Arabia shake hands with Peres. The fact that they act they way they do means they are signalling their people that no matter what they say to gullible foreigners in order to dupe them and get money out of them, the struggle against Israel and Zionism continues.

    Richard said:
    ———————————————–
    Further, while I agree there is reasonable doubt as to the extent of Saudi and others’ commitment to the Arab League proposal, that it was just a PR ploy, that doubt can be tested by an ACTUAL test of it.

    ————————————————

    Olmert agreed to almost all the territorial components of the Arab “peace plan”. What was their response? Did they meet with him in order to strengthen Olmert, Livni and the Kadima “peace party” before the elections? Did they announce that Israel has made major strides in the direction of accepting the Plan? NO. They keep saying that no progress was made. They themselves don’t take it seriously. Their threat that “it won’t remain on the table indefinitely” shows they don’t ascribe any real importance to peace agreements with Israel, because someone really commmitted to peace and a better future for his people wouldn’t say such a thing.

  8. “Sorry, but the Arabs have NOT given up claims the Kotel. even though Olmert did accept a withdrawal more or less to the pre-67 lines.”

    I’m confident that if the 67 borders were the proposed borders intact, and Palestine had sovereignty to East Jerusalem (excluding the Jewish portions of the walled city), that they would accept those borders.

    Olmert did NOT accept a withdrawal to “more or less” the 67-borders. His proposal annexed most of East Jerusalem and all of the settlement blocs with significant Jewish population, and retained the Jordan Valley outposts.

    “This is not the position of the Israeli defense establishment.”

    Name names. I’ve heard from defense officials that the opposite is the case, that the maze is only “easy to monitor” with the wall and automated survellance in place. If they are deemed illegal by international law that Israel subscribes or their own Supreme Court, then a contiguous border is far easier to monitor and defend than the maze.

    The only more defensible border would be on the Jordan, but if you are advocating for annexation to the Jordan, then you are suggesting changing the status quo. I doubt Israel would survive it over two generations.

    “First of all, I believe Taiwan spends something like that on its defense, and that doesn’t stop them from being a prosperous state.”

    They struggle. You really have the audacity to state that the Israeli defense expenditures are not a significant economic drain. Your premise of solely worst case scenarios (if they sign a treaty but still face potential war) is effective for someone whose ONLY responsibility is defense. Israeli leaders are responsible to MULTIPLE concerns, multiple parties.

    For example, Israel’s ground water supply is becoming toxified by overuse. Water will become first priority at some future date. Or contagious disease issues. Each requiring cooperation.

    “I am sorry, but the onus is on YOU to prove that is not the situation.”

    I asked you to actually suggest what constructing peace would entail, towards changing hearts, minds, laws, jurisdictions, relations. (It is a construction, not only a reaction.) I’m very sorry that you give so much power to the Islamic and Arab community in the form a passive approach to their attitudes and behavior.

    I’m sorry that you don’t see the likely extreme difficulty of maintaining the status quo.

    And, I’m very sorry that you give such little importance to the stresses that are placed on existing treaties comprising such a large portion of Israel’s borders with Arab states.

    Israel is served by expanding the areas of cooperation and reconciliation. It is a great relief that the large borders with Jordan and Egypt require LESS monitoring than with Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Gaza.

  9. Mr. Ben-David,
    What passes for evidence for you is astounding. On the issue of the kotel you quote the Arabs from 1929. How about allowing for the fact that the kotel was never in dispute at Camp David 2000?

    The State Dept. has consistently seen Israeli settlements as “unhelpful” or damaging to peace efforts. They have actually pushed to have several administrations declare them illegal. While a case could be made for settlements in unoccupied areas like the Jordan Valley, those that involve confiscation of Arab land are clearly illegal under the Geneva Convention.

    Mr. Ben-David, you could possibly convince those that know nothing about the conflict after five minutes, but not those who know something about it.

    It stands to reason that if you leave the Palestinian Arabs with no area for a state and continually confiscate their land they will not make peace. There are large numbers of Palestinians desirious of a two-state solution. You, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, do your best to see that they are not given a chance.

  10. Beyond not buying the nonsense about 4000 years and Jew-hating Arabs, etc, the reason why the settlements don’t sell to Americans who have the slightest bit of information about the situation is that the physical, geographical, spatial relations that most of the settlements are based upon looks exactly like apartheid. Separation (Hafrada if you will), yes, but enforced and naked economic disparity is the hallmark of apartheid. A signpost screaming “separate and never equal”. The swimming pools and smooth tarmacs of the settlements vs the dry wells and rough-patch paths of Palestinian villages — Americans tend to react poorly to such naked displays of inequity. Sorry Mr Ben David, the more you talk about settlements, the less you’ll convince Americans — I know because I can convince a fellow American in 5 minutes as well….

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