Survey: 30 percent of settlers outside blocs would evacuate without peace deal

JERUSALEM (JTA) — About 30 percent of the residents in West Bank settlements outside the major blocs would evacuate for compensation even if there were no peace deal with the Palestinians, a new survey found.

The survey also found that nearly 50 percent of the 100,000 settlers living in areas likely to become part of a Palestinian state under a peace agreement would voluntarily evacuate after an agreement, while 40 percent would not.

The survey was undertaken for the Israeli organization Blue White Future, a nonpartisan group working to encourage settlers to relocate within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The organization is headed by former Israeli internal security chief Ami Ayalon and former Israeli peace negotiator Gilad Sher.

Conducted last August by the Macro Center for Political Economics, the survey sampled 501 individuals by telephone and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent. Similar surveys were conducted in 2008 and 2012 with virtually identical results.

Sher said an Israeli government-enacted voluntary evacuation and compensation law, under which up to 30,000 settlers in far-flung settlements would move within the pre-1967 borders or in settlements that will be annexed under a peace deal, would “unequivocally demonstrate that Israel is serious about seeking a two-state solution. It would also begin to create a reality of two states while the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations continue and, in fact, increase the chances of the negotiation track succeeding. It could also encourage Palestinians to reciprocate with their own constructive, independent steps.”

Among the settlers willing to evacuate voluntarily without a peace agreement, the survey found that three-quarters would relocate to areas within the pre-1967 borders and the rest to the settlement blocs. After an agreement, 55 percent would relocate to the settlement blocs and 45 percent within the pre-1967 borders.

The age group of settlers most willing to relocate voluntarily before a peace agreement in exchange for compensation is 50 to 59, with 46.5 percent saying they would. The age group least willing is 18 to 29, with 10.2 percent saying they would.

Of those willing to relocate prior to a peace deal, 12.6 percent define themselves as religious and 45.5 percent as secular. Some 22.4 identify as ultra-Orthodox, and 35.5 percent as traditional.

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