A grass-roots organization that has set up survey stations across the country says it is finding a large majority of Israelis favor transferring the Palestinian population out of Israel instead of implementing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to evacuate Jewish settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank this summer.
Israelis filling out survey ballots. Photo: WND.
Mishalot Yisrael a group formed to assess public opinion with regard to the Gaza withdrawal, has been sending teenage volunteers throughout the country to man survey stations in public areas. The teens stop pedestrians of all kinds who pass by their ballot booths, usually situated outside bus stations and shopping malls in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other cities.
Participants are given a ballot card asking whether they “prefer the ‘Sharon/Peres Disengagement Plan,’ which includes transferring Gaza and parts of the West Bank to Palestinian control and expulsion of all Jews who live there. Or do you prefer the ‘Jewish Alternative Disengagement Plan,’ which includes annexing these territories and expulsion of the Arabs living there to an area outside Israel, deep beyond a safe security buffer zone?”
What Mishalot is finding, it says, is staggering: Upwards of 90 percent of respondents are checking the box in favor of the mass transfer of Palestinians.
“This number is remarkable,” said Mishalot Director Yekutiel Ben Yaacov. “We aren’t taking these polls in the heart of so-called nationalist communities in [the West Bank.] Our polling stations are in the busiest sections of major cities, like Jerusalem. We get all kinds of people, religious, secular, old, young, Israeli-born, immigrants … you name it.”
Last week, WND monitored a polling station outside Jerusalem’s central bus station. A ballot table was set up at the station from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., considered the most popular commute hours. Hundreds of Israelis – both secular and religious – participated. During the three hours, 807 ballots were filled out and later tallied by WND. Nine ballots favored evacuating Jews from Gaza, while 798 were in favor of kicking the Palestinians out.
Mishalot says it decided to conduct its own survey after Israel’s Knesset rejected a bid in March to hold a national referendum regarding the Gaza withdrawal.
But Ben Yaacov admits his poll is not scientific. The group does not keep track of demographic trends, allows minors to participate, and does not verify that those polled are even Israeli. People can also vote on Mishalot’s website, which does not ask for registration information or certify its traffic.
Said Ben Yaacov: “Of course this is not being conducted by an expert company that can guarantee it is a scientific cross section of Israeli society. Ours is a grass-roots effort. We want to get to as many Israelis as we possibly can, and see what the general trend is. And that trend – to get the Palestinians out – is hands down what almost everyone tells us they favor.”
The trend seems to conform with recent polls that show a drop in support for the Gaza evacuation.
A public opinion poll conducted Thursday for Israel’s daily Yediot Aharonot showed 53 percent of Israelis favor the Gaza disengagement and 38 percent are opposed. In a previous poll, conducted for Yediot in February, 69 percent said they supported the evacuation and 27 percent opposed.
Another poll, released yesterday, determined 51 percent of Israelis are against the planned evacuation if it is carried out under fire, while only 37 percent support it.
“There is a silent majority opposed to the plan” said Ben Yaacov. “And in the Yediot polls, Israelis were not even offered an alternative, just whether they favored the Gaza evacuation or not. We find when actually given another plan, namely the expulsion of Palestinians instead of Jews, most Israelis absolutely want to boot the Palestinians.”
In January, Mishalot commissioned Mutagim, a major Israeli polling company, to conduct a survey regarding the Palestinian transfer plan. The certified results showed a plurality – 39 percent of the general Israeli population – said they favor the mass transfer of Palestinians, while 37 percent favor Sharon’s Jewish evacuation plan.
The poll was considered controversial by many in Israel. Politicians who in the past raised the possibility of expelling the Palestinian population, including the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and former Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeavi, were largely sidelined by the mainstream Israeli media and general population. Both were later assassinated.
Several Israeli polling companies, including Israel’s renowned Dahav Institute, refused to conduct the survey altogether.
Veteran Israeli pollster and Dahav chief Dr. Mina Tzemach told WorldNetDaily: “Yes, I refused to do it. The so-called alternative plan [calling for a Palestinian population transfer] is unrealistic, immoral and it will never happen. Such ideas are damaging to the state of Israel.”