Ha’aretz Poll – Only 37% Of Israelis Support Olmert’s Unilateral Withdrawal Plan
June 9, 2006

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A June 7 poll conducted for the Ha’aretz newspaper shows that only 37% of Israelis support Ehud Olmert’s plan to carry out further unilateral withdrawals in Judea and Samaria, while 56% of the Israeli public opposes the plan. The poll of 515 adult Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) was supervised by Professor Camille Fuchs of Tel Aviv University. It is also found that only 35% of Israelis approve of Ehud Olmert’s performance as Prime Minister, an unusually low result after only one month in office for a new government (Ha’aretz, June 9).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This latest poll shows that the majority of the Israeli public does not believe that a policy of unilateral withdrawals is the one for Israel to adopt. The negative consequences of Israel’s Gaza withdrawal — increased arms smuggling into Gaza, increased rocket attacks from northern Gaza, the infiltration of Al-Qaeda and Iranian personnel into the territory — speak strongly against the idea of handing over more territory to the Hamas/Palestinian Authority. Israelis are afraid that further unilateral withdrawals in Judea and Samaria will only bring Iranian and Al-Qaeda personnel as well as missiles, katyushas and mortars up to Israel’s major population centers, including Jerusalem, while civilian aircraft taking off and landing at Ben-Gurion airport will be within the terrorists’ range.

“This poll is also a strong refutation of those who argued immediately after the Israeli elections that the results showed decisive support for Olmert’s unilateral withdrawal plan. Even at the time, this was obviously incorrect. Olmert’s Kadima party received the support of only 21% of voting Israelis and of all Israeli citizens, including those not voting, only 13% voted for Kadima. There was virtually an even split between the left of center pro-withdrawal parties and the right of center anti -withdrawal parties, with the left gaining 53 seats (Kadima, 29, Labor 19, Meretz 5) while the right gained 50 (Likud 12, Shas 12, Yisrael Beitenu, 11, National Union/National Religious Party 9, United Torah Judaism 6). This was hardly a strong endorsement of Olmert’s plan in an election in which domestic issues predominated.

“The strongest indication at the time of the lack of strong support for Olmert’s plan was the fact that in the final weeks of the election campaign when Olmert started emphasizing his intention to carry out unilateral withdrawals, Kadima’s consistently strong showing in polls (over 40 seats) fell precipitously to only 29 seats on election day. If the Israelis really wanted unilateral withdrawals, Olmert’s support would have strengthened in the last few weeks before elections, not dramatically weakened. This latest poll now confirms that the majority of the Israeli public is opposed to Olmert’s plan. Major figures who have criticized or opposed Olmert’s unilateral withdrawal plan include former Israel Defense Force (IDF) Chief-of-Staff, Lieutenant-General Moshe Yaalon, outgoing Israeli National Security Council (NSC) head Major-General Giora Eiland, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, former Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman, Yuval Steinitz, current Tourism Minister and number two Labor Party figure, Yitzhak Herzog, Housing Minister and senior Kadima figure, Meir Shitreet, former CIA Director, R. James Woolsey, former Israeli ambassador, Zalman Shoval, Center for Security Policy President, Frank Gaffney, Mideast scholar Daniel Pipes, Jerusalem Post Managing Editor Caroline Glick, leading Israeli journalist for the left-wing Ha’aretz newspaper, Ari Shavit, and 2005 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics, Professor Robert Aumann.”

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