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Most Israelis Favor Giving Up Land for Peace, New Opinion Poll Finds

A solid majority of Israelis now favor some sort of territorial compromise in exchange for peace with the Arabs, a new public opinion poll has determined.

But an even larger majority opposes a return to the 1967 borders, according to the poll, which was taken in May by the Gutmann Institute for Practical and Social Research.

The survey was conducted among a random sampling of 1,200 Jewish adults throughout the country, kibbutzniks excluded. It found that Israelis of both left-wing and right-wing persuasions are dissatisfied with the status quo in the administered territories and oppose a do-nothing policy.

About four-fifths of the respondents were amenable to giving up the Gaza Strip, and about 70 percent agreed it is possible to relinquish at least part of the West Bank in exchange for peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors.

The Gutmann Institute’s director, Eliahu Katz and Chana Levinson analyzed the results in a recent article in the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot.

They said the responses were remarkably uniform on abstract concepts, such as “territorial compromise” and “status quo,” but become fragmented when reduced to concrete choices.

For example, 7 percent of the respondents were prepared to return all of the West Bank; 12 percent would return most of the territory; 30 percent would give up a “certain portion” of it; and 20 percent a small part.

Thirty-one percent were not prepared to return anything, and 93 percent said Israel should not even discuss a total withdrawal.

GIVE UP GAZA, KEEP THE GOLAN

But according to the poll, 65 percent of the political right and 95 percent of the left is ready to get out of the Gaza Strip. Yet about 75 percent of the left and 95 percent of the right is determined to hold on to the Golan Heights.

Fully 96 percent of the respondents said East Jerusalem must remain Israeli under any circumstances.

The poll showed most Israelis, including two-thirds of Labor Party voters, oppose negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

When asked to evaluate specific proposed solutions individually, respondents tended to reject the most radical options. Only 21 percent supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, 24 percent supported unilateral withdrawal from the territories, and 31 percent supported annexing the territories.

More complex solutions won greater support. Forty-five percent supported a federation between Jordan and the territories, 57 percent backed annexation with some measure of autonomy for the Palestinians; and 57 percent supported withdrawal from portions of the territories heavily populated by Arabs.

But a sizeable number of Israelis favor the “transfer solution,” a euphemism for the expulsion of all or most of the indigenous Palestinian population from the administered territories.

In the latest poll, 43 percent of the Jewish public expressed support for such drastic measures, down from more than 50 percent in previous surveys.

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