Israeli Poll: Israeli Public Oppose Ceding Golan Heights To Syria 67% to 16%
June 13, 2008

 A new Israeli poll has found that more than two-thirds of the Israeli public – 67% – oppose ceding the Golan Heights to Syria, while only 16% of Israeli favor such a course and 17% take no position. The poll by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research as part of its War and Peace Index project, conducted by Professors Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann, also found that an overwhelming majority of Israelis regard the Golan Heights as important to Israel: 65% of Israelis believe that the Golan Heights possess strategic military importance to Israel, 20% cite its historical connection to Jewish life and history and 7% believe it has value for the Israeli economy and tourist industry.


Additionally, the Israeli public overwhelmingly favors a public decision on ceding the Golan Heights, not one made solely by the political leadership of the day: 72% support a public decision and 66% would like that decision to be made in a referendum, indicating the public has little faith in its elected politicians when it comes to the Golan Heights. As for the question of in which stages of the negotiations a referendum should be held, 48% said they prefer it to be held before any detailed treaty was reached, while 41% favor conducting it only after a deal is struck. Only a decided minority – 20% – of the Israeli public believe that a decision on the Golan Heights should be made by the Israeli government with the support of a regular majority (8%) or a special majority (12% ) of the Knesset (Yediot Ahronot, June 9, 2008).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This latest Peace Index poll showing that more than two-thirds of Israelis opposed ceding the Golan Heights to Syria is also supported by the Panel Institute poll conducted in May, which showed that 70% of Israelis opposed ceding the Golan Heights. Other recent polls show similar Israeli skepticism about negotiated agreements with the Palestinian Authority and thus the concessions they would entail.


“Taken together, these polls and others like them clearly demonstrate that a clear majority of the Israeli public believe that relinquishing historically Jewish and strategically vital territory to enemy regimes that have not changed their ways would be a tragic mistake. Israel‘s security would be deeply harmed by relinquishing the Golan Heights and not possessing it might well have spelt destruction for Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Syria may well have cut Israel in two in 1973 if it had been able to launch its surprise aggression against Israel from the Golan itself instead of from positions beyond it. Instead, it had to use the valuable first days of its surprise attack trying to retake it.


“The Syrian regime has not changed; on the contrary it is working overtime with Iran and Hizballah to further endanger Israel.”

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