Poll shows majority Israelis favour 'apartheid' policies
More than two-thirds of Israel's Jews say 2.5-million Palestinians living in the West Bank should be denied the right to vote if the area was annexed by Israel, in effect endorsing an apartheid state, according to an opinion poll reported in Haaretz.
Three out of four are in favour of segregated roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, and 58% believe Israel already practises apartheid against Palestinians, the poll found.
A third want Arab citizens within Israel to be banned from voting in elections to the country's Parliament. Almost six out of 10 say Jews should be given preference to Arabs in government jobs, 49% say Jewish citizens should be treated better than Arabs, 42% would not want to live in the same building as Arabs and the same number do not want their children going to school with Arabs.
A commentary by Gideon Levy, which accompanied the results of the poll, described the findings as disturbing. "Israelis themselves … are openly, shamelessly and guiltlessly defining themselves as nationalistic racists," he wrote.
"It's good to live in this country, most Israelis say, not despite its racism, but perhaps because of it. If such a survey were released about the attitude to Jews in a European state, Israel would have raised hell. When it comes to us, the rules don't apply."
The poll was conducted by a public opinion firm, Dialog, and commissioned by the New Israel Fund, an organisation accused by right-wing critics of having an anti-Zionist agenda. Dialog interviewed 503 people out of an Israeli Jewish population of just under 6 million.
Talk of the possible annexation of the West Bank, or the main settlement blocks within it, has increased in recent months as expectations of a negotiated settlement to the conflict have sunk to an all-time low. Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, recently argued for the annexation of land between the internationally recognised Green Line and the Israeli-built separation barrier.
The poll results will bolster the claim of Israel's Arab citizens, who make up 20% of the population, that they suffer from racist discrimination. Almost half the poll's respondents said Israeli Arabs should be transferred to the Palestinian Authority, and a third said that Arab towns in Israel should be moved to the PA's jurisdiction in exchange for Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
According to the Haaretz report, the survey found that ultra-Orthodox Jews held the most extreme views about Arabs, with 70% supporting a legal ban on voting rights and 95% backing discrimination against Arabs in the workplace. – © Guardian News and Media 2012