Poll of British Jews Shows 75 Percent See Settlements as Obstacle to Peace

Around three in four British Jews believe that Israeli government approach to peace with the Palestinians is damaging "to its standing in the world" and that Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are an obstacle to peace, according to a poll published Thursday.

In a poll commissioned by Yachad, a U.K.-based Jewish organization that describes itself as pro-peace, British Jews showed widespread support (90 percent) for Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, but the study showed that the majority of British Jews are at also odds with the policies of the Israeli government.

Seventy-three percent agreed that Israeli government policies towards the Palestinian issue are damaging Israel's global reputation. More than half (58 percent) said they agreed with the statement that Israel "will be seen as an apartheid state if it tries to retain control over borders that contain more Arabs than Jews," in reference to Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The survey was conducted by British market research company Ipsos Mori with City University leading the analysis. It is the first survey of the British Jewry's views towards Israel since 2010. The survey was conducted between March and July 2015 and the findings are based on the responses of 1,131 British Jews. Britain has a Jewish population of 284,000, according to the U.K.-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

Other key findings from the survey include: 75 percent of British Jews believe that "the expansion of settlements in the West Bank is a major obstacle to peace," 71 percent believe that the two-state solution is the only way Israel will achieve peace in the region and 72 percent reject the statement that "the Palestinians have no legitimate claim to a land of their own."

Sixty-two percent of British Jews also support Israel giving up territory in order to achieve peace but only 50 percent support such a move if it threatens Israel's security. Almost a quarter (24 percent) would "support some sanctions against Israel" if they "encourage the Israeli government to engage in the peace process." Nearly half (47 percent) believe that the Israeli government is "constantly creating obstacles to avoid engaging in the peace process" but 32 percent disagreed with that statement.

There was also a reported drop in the number of British Jews who define themselves as Zionists in comparison with the 2010 survey, from 72 percent to 59 percent. However, 84 percent said they had a "deep sense of pride" in Israel's "achievements in art, science and technology."

Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad, said of the survey results: "The community is shifting. Feelings of despair, conflict between loyalty to Israel and concern over policies of the government are mainstream not marginal positions. The research shows we are more willing to speak out on these issues than ever before."

"This is against the backdrop of a Jewish community that remains fully committed to Israel and its centrality to Jewish identity," she added. "There are real concerns within the community about the security situation in Israel, with the majority agreeing that the only way out of continued rounds of violence is through a political agreement with the Palestinian people."

Another poll published this week by British pro-Israel advocacy organization BICOM showed that more than half of Britons view Israel as Britain's main ally in the Middle East. Some 47 percent believed that boycotts of Israel would hurt both Israelis and Palestinians while 12 percent said they would not object to Israel being singled out for boycotts.

Poll of British Jews Shows 75 Percent See Settlements as Obstacle to Peace | Politics