Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons
Greenhouses like these were the core of the Gush Katif economy

On the half-century anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War, the monthly Peace Index survey of The Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University found that a majority of the Jewish public in Israel – 62 percent – believes Israel’s control of Judea and Samaria is not “an occupation.” By contrast, fully 91 percent of the Arab public is indeed certain that it is an “occupation.”

Less than a third of Israeli Jews think Israel’s control over our ancient homelands in Judea and Samaria is “Occupation”.

The “general public” was just about evenly divided on the question, with 41 percent convinced that Judea and Samaria is “occupied” by Israel, but 42 percent disagreeing, convinced it is not. Six percent declined to answer.

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The study is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at the university, and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute.

This month’s survey, conducted on May 28-29, 2017 by telephone and on the internet by the Midgam Research Institute, included 600 respondents, of which 100 were “Arabs” and 500 were Jews in order to create a representative sample of the national population.

(It would be interesting to see the response from a more detailed breakdown of those surveyed, showing sub-population groups and locations they represent, for example, hareidi-religious Jews, settlers, Tel Aviv residents, Druze, northern or Negev Bedouin, etc.)

More than half the Israeli Jews surveyed believe Judea and Samaria should be annexed.

Among those surveyed, more than half the Jewish public believes Israel should have annexed all the territories conquered in 1967. Among the Arabs, however: 79 percent opposed annexation.

In both the Jewish population and the general public, fully 10 percent declined to answer on this.

The key question, of course, is the one that was used as the excuse for U.S. President Donald Trump to sign the six-month waiver preventing the relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this time around: Will negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority lead to peace in the coming years?

Believing that anything might deter the Ramallah-based leadership from coming to the table, Trump broke the campaign promise he made to millions of American Jews and Evangelical Christians to move the Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital.

Respondents to the Peace Index in May across the board were largely in favor of peace negotiations, regardless of their cynicism about the likelihood that talks might succeed.

In the Jewish sector, just about 62 percent (61.9) of Jews survey were in favor of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with 31 percent (30.9) opposed. In the Arab sector, there was even more support, with 70 percent in favor and 28 (27.9) percent opposed. The general public was much the same, with 63 percent in favor (63.3) and 30.5 percent opposed.

As to whether those talks will ever bear fruit, however – well, that’s a different story entirely. As Israelis are sadly already well aware, talking the talk is one thing; walking the talk is quite another.

It is obvious from the results of this month’s survey that the Jews see and understand that Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are an integral part of the State of Israel, and that Israel’s government isn’t ruling over another people, nor is the IDF in Gaza any longer.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority government controls its Arab citizens in Judea and Samaria and even, to a certain extent, those in Gaza — as far as the ruling Hamas terrorist government there will allows — due to its control over the purse strings.

But it’s equally clear that to a great extent the Arab respondents don’t see that yet — and perhaps choose not to see it either — preferring instead to buy the Palestinian Authority fantasy of ‘Filastine from the river to the sea,’ which simply erases any thought, mention, memory or visual reminder of that pesky Jewish State, Israel.

The incessant, government-sponsored generations-long brainwashing of its population by the Palestinian Authority, teaching its people only to hate Israel and Jews, to glory in blood, murder and death, has borne its fruit. The Peace Index reflects the truth of the programming designed by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas generations ago.

Those who know their history, know the Arab nations and fedayeen attacked the young State of Israel — not once, but numerous times long before 1967 — and long before most of the settlements ever came into existence.

Israeli Jews know that settlements aren’t the obstacle to peace.

But Mahmoud Abbas has convinced his people that “the settlements are an obstacle to peace” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Even though 56 (55.8) percent of the Jewish public and even 51.5 percent of the general public knows this is not true, in the Arab sector 68 percent believe it to be the truth.

Nevertheless, no one believes that President Trump will really succeed in bring Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table: among Jews, 59 percent responded that the chances were low to very low; among the Arab sector 80 percent (79.9) believed the same, and even among the general public, 63 (62.6) percent were not optimistic about the likelihood the president would manage to bring the two sides together.

As to the “ultimate deal”? All sides agree on that as well: Among Jews, 82 percent believe that chances are “low” to “very low” of reaching and Israeli-Palestinian Authority agreement within the next two years. Among Arabs, 76 percent agree with the Jews; and among the general population, 81 percent agree with everyone else. It’s not likely, at least for the next two years — which means it looks like President Trump is likely to sign at least another four waivers to keep the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv as he chases Middle Eastern peace across Judea and Samaria.

The 2005 Disengagement from Gaza left more than 8,000 Jews homeless, most without their livelihoods. One of Israel’s most passionate warriors placed his political career on the altar of a pointless dream that to date has resulted in more than 10,000 rockets, mortars and missiles fired at Israelis from what used to be their homes. Thousands of Jewish lives – marriages, military lives, careers, childhoods, adolescent dreams and more – were lost in the maelstrom that swept up the Jewish State into the hell on earth that resulted from destroying 23 Jewish communities in Gaza’s Gush Katif region, and northern Samaria.

God forbid that mistake should be repeated, let alone amplified, in the hills of Judea and Samaria.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.