New York – A new Israeli poll has found that nearly two-thirds of Israelis — 64.4% — oppose the Israeli Government Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter’s proposal of negotiating the handing over of the Golan Heights to Syria in return for a peace treaty with the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Only 27.4 % of Israelis were willing to support negotiations. The poll of 540 Israeli adults (including Arab Israelis) was carried out by Geocartographia for Israel Radio’s “It’s all Talk” on 23 August. The idea of negotiating the ceding of the Golan Heights to Syria has recently been raised by other senior ministers in Olmert government, including Defense Minister Amir Peretz, but the latest poll shows a decisive majority of Israelis opposing it.
Other findings in the same poll show that the Olmert government lacks credibility with the Israeli public following the recent Lebanon war. For example, only 4.5% of Israelis favor Amir Peretz as Defense Minister. Conversely, a majority of Israelis — 55.6% — support the entrance into Israeli politics of former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon. Yaalon substantially reduced Palestinian terrorism during his period as Chief of Staff (2002-2005), opposed the Israeli unilateral withdrawal from Gaza last year and has spoken out strongly against the policy of further unilateral withdrawals. The poll also showed that he is the most favored figure for the post of Defense Minister, with 28.9% supporting him — a lead of more than eleven percentage points over the next most popular figure for the job, former IDF Chief of Staff and former Defense Minister Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz, who is favored by 17.4% of the public.
ZOA Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said , “These poll findings are eloquent testimony to the loss of confidence among the Israeli public in the wisdom of the Olmert government’s policies and its ability to handle the immense challenges Israel faces. The Israeli public clearly do not share the view of some senior Israeli government ministers that Syria, which has made the existence and operation of Hizballah possible, should be rewarded following a costly war with Hizballah with the ceding of the Golan Heights in return for a piece of paper. It understands that this proposal would only reward the major sponsors of terrorism — Syria and Iran. Additionally, the support that is being exhibited for Moshe Yaalon entering politics and the fact that he leads all others as favored candidate for occupying the post of Defense Minister is a pointer to the change in Israeli public opinion. Israelis have turned the corner and do not wish any longer to follow policies that have been demonstrated to reward terrorism and boost the terrorists while winning them new recruits and opportunities to murder Israelis and endanger the country.”
* * *
The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897, is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, educates the American public and Congress about the dangers that Israel faces, and combats anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses. Its past presidents have included Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver.