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Majority of Israelis Opposed to Withdrawal from Occupied Territories

January 24, 1978
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By very substantial majorities, Israelis are opposed to total withdrawal from occupied territories even “in exchange for peace treaties with the Arab states,” oppose abandoning the settlements in northern Sinai and believe Premier Menachem Begin is doing a good job, according to the results of a national poll published by the Government Press Office yesterday.

The poll conducted among the Jewish urban adult population by the Hebrew University’s Center for Applied Social Research, showed Israelis to be almost unanimous in their opposition to talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization or the establishment of a Palestinian state. According to the responses, 87 percent ruled out the PLO as a negotiating partner and 91 percent rejected a state for the Palestinians.

The poll was conducted just before the Israeli-Egyptian political talks were broken off last Wednesday by President Anwar Sadat. The crucial issues in those talks were Israeli withdrawal, particularly the fate of settlements in the Rafah salient and other parts of Sinai and the Palestinian question. But 71 percent of the respondents would not agree to total withdrawal “in exchange for peace treaties” and 72 percent opposed leaving the Rafah settlements outside the sphere of Israeli sovereignty.

However, 60 percent believed that no new settlements should be established in the occupied areas at this time while 40 percent thought the government should go ahead with new settlements even while peace talks were underway.

Asked “What concessions do you think Israel should make in exchange for a peace agreement with Jordan?” only five percent opted for total withdrawal from the West Bank; 28 percent favored withdrawal from a substantial part of that territory; 44 percent were for withdrawal from a small part; and 23 percent were opposed to any withdrawal. On a related issue, 42 percent thought a national election or referendum should be held “before a real decision on the peace map is taken” but 58 percent thought that was not necessary.

Begin was described as doing his job “very well” or “well” by 68 percent of the respondents; 21 percent rated his performance “quite well”; nine percent “not very well” and two percent “not well at all.” Significantly, 46 percent said the government’s peace plan was “definitely clear” to them while 54 percent said it was “not clear.”

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