A strong majority of Israelis believe Jewish settlement in the West Bank to be legal under Israeli law, a new poll shows.
The survey, conducted by New Wave Research on behalf of Regavim, found that 60 percent of Israelis view the settlements to be legal, while only 16 percent consider them to be illegal. 24% were unsure.
When respondents were asked about the legality of settlements under international law, the results differed substantially. A slight majority of 36% said they were legal and 35% said they believed them to be illegal. 29% said they didn’t know.
The poll also measured how the public’s attitude towards settlements and settlers would be impacted if views regarding the legality of settlement activity were to change.
If convinced of the legality of the settlements under international law, 34% of respondents said that their view towards the settlers would improve. 31% said that their opinion regarding building in the settlements would be more positive, and 31% said that it would cause them to reconsider whether Israel should dismantle most of the settlements as part of a final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
The poll was conducted with a sampling of 508 Hebrew speaking, Israeli Jews over 18 years of age, and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
Various Israeli activists told The Algemeiner that they see the results as relevant to the Israeli government’s decisions relating to the controversial Levy Report on the settlements, published in July 2012.
The Report was compiled by a three member committee headed by retired Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy, who was appointed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to investigate the legal status of West Bank Jewish settlements.
Levy concluded that settlements are legal under international law, however, as of yet, the Report has not been brought before any parliamentary or governmental body which would have the power to approve it.
“When we understand the full implications of this poll, we recognize how important it is to educate the public here in Israel about the Levy Report,” Arlene Kushner, an activist who has coalesced an alliance of individuals and groups to promote the Levy Report, said. “Israelis have heard the international community declare the settlements to be part of an ‘illegal occupation’ or ‘illegitimate’ for so long that some have started believing it themselves. In fact, the negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs ignore Israel’s legal rights in Judea and Samaria.”
“The Levy Report, issued by a committee headed by a former High Court judge, concluded that under international law there is no Israeli occupation in Judea and Samaria. This poll shows that if Israelis are aware of these findings, a significant percentage of those who currently oppose the settlements would reconsider their attitude and would no longer support uprooting them,” Kushner said.
Jeff Daube, the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) Israel Director, and a c0-chair of the alliance, told The Algemeiner that “The Report must be brought back onto the agenda so that its conclusions and recommendations can be discussed and implemented.”
“Acknowledging Israel’s legal claim to Judea and Samaria can only strengthen its position both domestically and in the international community,” he said.