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(03/25/08) -

Israelis Oppose Withdrawal from West Bank

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – The majority of people in Israel are against continuing a process of dismantling Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, according to a poll by the Mutagim Institute published in the Jerusalem Post. 64.9 per cent of respondents oppose withdrawing from Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – The majority of people in Israel are against continuing a process of dismantling Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, according to a poll by the Mutagim Institute published in the Jerusalem Post. 64.9 per cent of respondents oppose withdrawing from Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.

In August 2005, under the mandate of then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, the Israeli government evacuated close to 8,000 Israeli settlers who lived in 21 Gaza Strip and four northern West Bank settlements as part of the "Disengagement Plan". Israel removed all military personnel from the Gaza Strip, but maintained a security presence in the West Bank. The plan was originally conceived as a continued withdrawal of all Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, but it was stopped for various reasons.

Fatah candidate Mahmoud Abbas won the January 2005 presidential ballot in the Palestinian Territories with 62.32 per cent of all cast ballots. In January 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council election, securing 74 of the 112 seats at stake. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh officially took over as prime minister in March. The Israeli government believes Hamas is directly responsible for the deaths of 377 citizens in a variety of attacks, which include dozens of suicide bombings.

In February 2007, Hamas and Fatah leaders reached an accord which set the guidelines for a power-sharing Palestinian administration, headed by Hamas, which would "respect" past peace agreements with Israel. In June, amid a wave of violent clashes between Palestinian supporters of the Hamas and Fatah factions, Hamas militants seized control of Gaza. Abbas issued a decree to form a 12-member emergency government—based in the West Bank—and expelled Hamas from the administration. Fatah member Salam Fayyad was appointed as prime minister by Abbas.

In November 2007, in a deal brokered by the United States, Abbas and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert announced they would work towards having a peace treaty signed by the end of 2008, which would include the creation of a Palestinian state.

The Islamic Jihad organization has been launching Qassam rockets into Israel from Gaza almost daily since Hamas took control of the territory. Israel holds Hamas responsible for the attacks for allowing the Islamic Jihad and other groups to act against Israel. In January, Israel completely sealed off its borders with the Gaza Strip and later launched a series of raids in order to capture or kill militants.

On Mar. 18, Olmert said the government will continue to build new homes in occupied territories, drawing criticism from both the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority. The prime minister declared: "There will be places where there will be construction, or additions to construction, because these places will remain in Israel’s hands (…) This includes, first and foremost, Jerusalem. We are building in Jerusalem because everyone knows that there is no chance the state of Israel will give up neighbourhoods like Har Homa, as you know. It’s an inseparable part of Jerusalem."

The fate of Jerusalem—which is considered holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians—has always been one of the major sticking points during peace negotiations. The largely Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem were captured and annexed by Israel following the 1967 War, in a move that was not recognized internationally.

Polling Data

In light of the results of the disengagement process from the Gaza Strip, are you in favour of a continued withdrawal from Judea and Samaria?

In favour

23.9%

Not in favour

64.9%

No answer

11.2%

Source: Mutagim Institute / Jerusalem Post
Methodology: Interviews with 500 Israeli adults, conducted in March 2008. Margin of error is 4.5 per cent.