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Majority of UK Jewish community oppose Israeli settlement expansion: Survey

A poll of more than 1,000 British Jews has found that a sizeable minority would support sanctions against Israel to further the peace process
The Israeli government last week approved 2,200 new settlement units (AFP)

A new survey of the British Jewish community this week found that the majority fear Israel’s approach to the peace process is damaging “to its standing in the world”.

Academics from London’s City University surveyed 1,131 British Jews over the age of 18, in research sponsored by the left-leaning pro-Israel lobby group Yachad.

Of those polled, 72 percent rejected the statement that “Palestinians have no legitimate claim to a land of their own,” and 65 percent said Israel should cede territory in the interests of peace.

While a two-thirds majority said they were strongly opposed to sanctions against Israel, almost a quarter (24 percent) said they would back “some sanctions” if it would help push Israel towards the negotiating table.

The vast majority, 73 percent, agreed that Israel’s approach to peace negotiations was damaging “its standing in the world”.

In particular the policy of expanding settlements, which are deemed illegal under international law, was seen as a major obstacle to achieving peace by three quarters of respondents.

However, only 32 percent said they would support “tougher action” by the UK government to oppose settlement expansion.

The Israeli government last week moved to green-light 2,200 new settlement units and to retroactively approve two outposts in the West Bank, possibly as a pre-emptive attempt to foil legal challenges against them.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government has presided over a years-long campaign of settlement expansion, this week cancelled upcoming meetings with the EU after Brussels issued guidelines calling for all products produced in settlements to be clearly labelled.

Netanyahu has spoken out strongly against the move, comparing it to a boycott of Jewish businesses imposed by the Nazis in the run-up to the Holocaust.

The new survey, published on Thursday, is the first major poll of the attitudes of the British Jewish population since 2010.

Critics have highlighted what they called “emotive” language used in the survey, pointing out that an alternative poll by the Jewish Chronicle in the run-up to the Israeli election in March found that, of a sample of 1,000, over 60 percent said they would support Netanyahu’s re-election.