Over 90% of Arab residents in the 'Triangle' are opposed to the land exchange plans announced by the Israeli Government on the 3rd February, 2004

A survey of the public opinion of Arabs residents of the 'Triangle' region in Israel has shown that there are high levels of opposition to Israeli Government's plans to exchange Arab towns and their residents in Israel for Jewish settlements and their residents in the West Bank. The survey results show that the majority (96%) of respondents were aware of the plans and that 91% of respondents opposed the plans, 67% of the respondents registering strong opposition.

The Survey, conducted by The Arab Center for Applied Social Research (MADA) in Haifa, interviewed 418 Arab Palestinians living in the ‘Triangle’ region in Israel on the 10th and the 11th of February 2004. The survey was conducted to gauge the level of support for/opposition to the exchange plan in one of the regions that would be most affected by it.

Of the 91% opposed to the plans, the reasons given for opposition were varied: 43% of said that it would mean them having to leave their homeland; 33% reasoned that living in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority would mean a fall in their living standards; 22% said that the plans would lead to them losing their jobs; 17% did not want to lose their rights as Israeli citizens; 12% thought that the future under the Palestinian Authority is unstable; 11% said that the exchange would separate them from their relatives and friends.

The responses to the survey also suggest that some of the opposition to the plans stems from the respondents distrust of Sharon’s government. Asked about the motives behind the government’s plans, only 2% of the respondents believed that the plans were a positive development and a genuine part of a plan to find a solution to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The other 98% of respondents gave negative reasons for the planned land and population exchange, the most common answer (51%) being that the exchange was to maintain the Jewish majority in Israel.

Those that opposed the exchange plans were asked whether, under some conditions, they would accept the plan. Again, the vast majority showed their strong opposition, 75% of those opposed to the plan rejected the exchange under any circumstances. When asked how they think the Palestinian Arab community would react if parts of it were forced to accept the land exchange plans, 71% of the respondents opposing the exchange envisaged very strong resistance to any attempt to force the plan on the residents of the Triangle.

Perhaps because of this anticipated strong reaction to any state attempts to force the land exchange, only 26% of respondents opposed to the exchange thought that the exchange is likely to proceed. Nevertheless, such discussion of plans by the government obviously makes respondents uneasy; 50% of the respondents expressed a high level of concern about their future in Israel.