A majority of Israeli Jews favour introducing discriminatory policies against the country’s Arab population and would support an “apartheid” system in the West Bank if it were ever annexed, an opinion poll has shown.
With three months to go before a general election, a survey reported in the Haaretz newspaper shows further evidence of a sharp tilt towards nationalism in Israeli society.
More than two-thirds of those questioned by Dialog, an opinion pollster, said they would oppose suffrage for the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank were it to be annexed to Israel.
Nearly three-quarters—74 per cent—say they also support a system of segregated roads for Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank, although the majority say they would view such a policy as “necessary” rather than “good”.
Although favoured by some nationalist Jews, the prospect of Israel annexing the West Bank, which it has occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967, remains a distant one.
But with little progress being made in resurrecting the Middle East peace process, the possibility of annexation is viewed by some as increasingly likely.
Palestinians, as well as some liberal Israelis, warn that the growing Jewish settler population in the West Bank means that the creation of a Palestinian state—the cornerstone of a “two-state solution”—is looking increasingly unviable.
The survey found that a majority of the Jewish public—59 per cent—say they want a system that gives preference to Jews applying for civil service jobs. Arabs, who constitute 20 per cent of the Israeli population, complain such a policy unofficially exists already.
Just under half of respondents, 49 per cent, said they want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones, while 42 per cent said they did not want to live in the same building as Arabs and did not want their children to go to schools that also admit Arabs.
Tellingly, 58 per cent of those surveyed said Israel already practices a system of apartheid against Palestinians, an opinion normally only voiced by the Jewish state’s staunchest critics.
This finding in particular has already prompted soul-searching on the Israeli Left-wing.
“This [survey] lays bare an image of Israeli society, and the picture is a very, very sick one,” Gideon Levy, a prominent commentator, wrote in an opinion piece accompanying the poll.
“Now it is not just critics at home and abroad, but Israelis themselves who are openly, shamelessly, and guiltlessly defining themselves as nationalistic racists.
“We’re racists, the Israelis are saying, we practice apartheid and we even want to live in an apartheid state. Yes, this is Israel.”
The poll surveyed 503 people.