NEW YORK- A new public opinion poll has found that the Likud could lose nearly half of its voters if the Sharon government unilaterally retreats from Gaza.
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.
Respondents who previously voted for the Likud were asked if they had known before the elections that a Likud government would unilaterally withdraw from Gaza, would it have changed their vote. Only 56% of Likud voters said they would have still voted for the Likud if they knew it would retreat from Gaza.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein commented: “It is remarkable that only slightly over half of Likud voters would stay with Likud if they had known it would retreat from Gaza. Most people vote for a party because of a variety of issues. Evidently the issue of unilateral Gaza retreat is so important to Likud voters that as many as half of them might desert the Likud if it goes ahead with the retreat.”
The poll also asked whether a Gaza retreat would improve Israel’s security by reducing the chances of rocket attacks on cities within pre-1967 Israel that have not yet been hit by rockets, such as Ashkelon and Ashdod. 42% said retreating from Gaza will increase the likelihood of such attacks, and another 28% said the chance of such attacks will remain the same. Only 21% believe the risk of such attacks will decrease. ZOA President Klein commented: “In other words, 70% of Israelis see no real security benefit from a Gaza withdrawal — they expect that the danger of rocket attacks on Israeli cities will either stay the same or increase.”