56% of Israelis back settlement construction UPDATE
by MainStreet, Fri Jun 12, 2009 at 09:48:18 AM EDT
(Please read the UPDATE below)
We have a new twist in the US-Israeli Conflict.
From a recent poll of Israeli public opinion, 56% backed Netanyahu's position to continue settlement construction in the West Bank, while in a second poll, as many as two-thirds of Israelis were against dismantling settlements in order to make way for a Palestinian state. Essentially, such results are a green light for Israel to keep its colonial gains.
These results also come just a few days before Netanyahu is expected to make a major policy speech to the nation, and just a few days after George Mitchell switched paths and is now showing interest in discussing the settling of Israel's borders, a move that would circumvent the settlement construction issue.
The colonization of Palestinian lands in the West Bank and East Jerusalem thus appears to have majority support from the Israeli public. The hawks seem to be in charge.
From the Associated Press:
Nearly six of every 10 Israelis think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resist U.S. demands to completely freeze construction in Jewish West Bank settlements, according to a new poll released Friday. The poll by the Maagar Mohot Polling Institute comes just ahead of Netanyahu's major policy speech on Sunday that is expected to address a growing divide with Washington.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said he wants to aggressively pursue Mideast peacemaking, and the halt of all building on land the Palestinians claim for their future state has been a key U.S. demand.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said Netanyahu should not consent to the American demand to halt all settlement construction, as opposed to 37 percent who said he should. Fifty percent said failure to comply would not provoke a crisis with the U.S., while 32 percent said they thought the settlement freeze was a make or break issue for Washington. Maagar Mohot also found in a separate poll that two-thirds of Israelis have little appetite for dismantling West Bank settlements. Thirty-six percent oppose any evacuation as part of a final peace deal and 30 percent said only a small number should be dismantled.
As is understood by Israel and the world, the Palestinians want the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for a future state. Obviously, settlement building in those areas is a major obstacle. Although the U.S. has opposed settlement construction for decades, Israel always interpreted that opposition as "wink and nod" permission to go ahead with colonizing the land. Obama's stance has been different: a settlement freeze is demanded. Obama has also pressed Netanyahu to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state, so that this conflict may finally be over.
By contrast, although Netanyahu is expected to try to placate Washington in his policy address on Sunday, it is unlikely that that he will say the magic words, two states. And now that he has found support among the Israeli public, it is even less likely.
This position by the right wing Likud government allows us to ask: was Hamas correct in not following in Arafat's or Abbas' footsteps and falling for empty peace rhetoric from Israel? Although Hamas represents only about 20% of Palestinians, and is often presented as a red herring blocking peace efforts, it seems that Hamas, in contrast to Israel, is on board the Obama train.
Hamas leader: Israeli settlement freeze essential
By SALAH NASRAWI, AP
CAIRO -The top leader of the militant Hamas group said Tuesday that President Barack Obama's pressure on Israel to freeze construction in West Bank settlements was an essential step toward restarting peace efforts.
The militant group -- which is eager to win international acceptance of its rule in Gaza though it is shunned by the U.S. and others as a terrorist organization -- has tried to sound more pragmatic since Israel's punishing three-week offensive early this year.
Leader Khaled Mashaal's endorsement of Obama's push also included an appeal for the international community to consider Hamas a "positive element" in the search for Middle East peace. "There is a new language from President Obama, but we expect real pressure on Israelis," Mashaal said. "There are demands Israel stop the settlements but this is not the price we are after ... although it's an essential step."
That price is a Palestinian state.
This is an interesting turn of events: Hamas supports Obama, but Israel doesn't. What an interesting world we live in.
UPDATE: J Street blasts 'distorted' poll that says Israelis against settlement freeze
The pro-Israel group J Street on Friday blasted a poll released earlier this week that said a majority of Israelis are against a settlement freeze, calling the poll 'politically motivated and distorted'.
The poll, which was later picked up by the Associated Press and other news outlets, said that 56% of Israelis support continued settlement construction.
J Street's statement read: "Today's quasi-poll, sponsored by Ariel University Center, the only settlement university, and published only in the clear rightist Makor Rishon-Hatzofe newspaper and not in any mainstream Hebrew press, is a good example of the half-truths and lies that will be injected into the debate. The politically motivated and distorting wording of the poll questions is clear to anyone who reads them."