A Third of Israeli Arabs in Favor of Towns Being Annexed to Palestinian State

Haaretz poll also shows increase in percentage of Arabs who support land swaps as part of future peace deal.

Nearly a third of Israeli Arabs are in favor of their communities being transferred to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian state under a peace deal, a survey conducted for Haaretz showed.

In comparison with earlier surveys on attitudes toward territorial and population exchanges, the survey points to an increase in the percentage of Israeli Arabs prepared to consider such exchanges in a future Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, though the majority of Israel's Arab population still opposes such exchanges

In the survey, conducted by the Dialog Institute under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, 500 Israeli Arabs from four areas in the country – Wadi Ara and the Little Triangle areas, Nazareth, Sahnin and Shfaram – were polled.

Nearly half (42 percent) of the respondents stated that they would support an exchange of territories in general, and 31 percent of the respondents stated that they personally would want to see their community transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction. A breakdown by age group of the last figure shows that the percentage of those supporting such a combined territorial and population exchange is highest in the 18-24 age bracket; over a third (36 percent) of the respondents in that age group stated that they would be willing to see their community placed under Palestinian sovereignty.

In comparison, in a Peace Index survey conducted in September 2005, only 21 percent of the respondents stated that they would support such a peace plan.

The survey was held before Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s declaration this week that he saw “no reason why they (the Israeli Arabs living in Wadi Ara and the Little Triangle areas in central and northern Israel) should not join their Palestinian brothers and sisters under full Palestinian sovereignty and become citizens of the future Palestinian state that they long for so ardently.”

The findings of the recent survey will be published tomorrow in their entirety in Haaretz’ weekend supplement in Hebrew alongside the enclave plan proposed by geographer Prof. Gideon Bigger. According to that plan, Lieberman’s proposal would be extended to areas in the Galilee with the result that Jewish settlements deep inside the West Bank, such as Ariel, Efrat, Kiryat Arba and Ma’aleh Adumim, would become autonomous enclaves.

AFP