NEW YORK- A new public opinion poll has found that 57% of Israelis oppose unilateral Israeli retreat from Gaza unless the plan is supported by a majority of the public in a national referendum.
The poll, commissioned by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), was taken on October 18 and 19, 2004 by Israel’s leading pollster, Hanoch Smith of the Smith Research Institute, and questioned a scientific sample of 500 Israeli Jewish adults. The poll found:
* 57% of Israelis believe that the government should implement the withdrawal plan “only if it turns out from a national referendum that the majority of the public supports it.”
* 70% of Israelis believe that if Israel retreats from Gaza, Palestinian Arab terrorist activity will continue at the same level or increase. (35% believe it will continue at the same level, 35% believe it will increase.) Only 24% of Israelis believe that leaving Gaza will reduce terrorism.
* 66% of Israelis believe that if Israel retreats from Gaza, the danger of Palestinian Arab terrorists firing rockets at Sderot (which is within pre-1967 Israel) will continue or increase.
* Only 15% of Israelis believe that the United States will “greatly reduce” its support for Israel if the retreat plan is not implemented. One of the main arguments used by retreat supporters is their claim that the U.S. will stop supporting Israel unless it unilaterally withdraws from Gaza.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein commented: “Prime Minister Sharon has no mandate to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza without a clear majority vote in a national referendum. He was elected on a platform that opposed unilateral retreat, his own Likud Party has voted overwhelmingly against unilateral retreat, and now the polls show that most Israelis oppose unilateral retreat without a national referendum.”