Israelis divided on renting to Arabs

AFP, Tuesday 28 Dec 2010

Israelis are split, a survey shows, on whether or not to sell or rent houses to Arabs

Israeli Jews are divided over a call by rabbis for Jews to avoid renting or selling property to non-Jews, with 44 percent in favour, and 48 percent opposed, a new poll showed Tuesday.

The survey, jointly conducted by Israeli and Palestinian pollsters, also revealed widespread pessimism about the chances that a Palestinian state will be created in the next five years.

And it showed a majority on each side fears an attack by the other.

The poll comes after dozens of senior Israeli rabbis, many of them state employees, signed a letter warning Jews against renting or selling property to non-Jews.

Human rights groups have said discrimination against Arabs and African immigrants in Israel is rising, and have criticised a series of proposed laws that activists have decried as racist.

The survey released Tuesday found 40 percent of Jews support legislation allowing small communities to refuse to admit new residents "based on social, national or economic suitability," while 48 percent oppose it.

And 55 percent of Israeli Jews support an oath that would require new citizens to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, but only if it applied to all newcomers.

Only six percent of Jews supported the allegiance pledge if it would apply exclusively to non-Jews.

Israel has 1.3 million Arab citizens -- Palestinians who remained in the country after the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 and their descendants.

There are also about 200,000 Arab residents of east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move not recognised by the international community.

On the issue of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the survey revealed deep scepticism about the chances of a Palestinian state being established in five years.

Seventy-one percent of Palestinians and 66 percent of Israelis said they thought the chances of a two-state solution being reached by 2015 were low or non-existent, in both cases more than thought the same in October.

The survey also found most Israelis and Palestinians expect talks to resume, but also think armed attacks will continue, though only 29 percent of Palestinians said they supported a return to armed confrontation with Israel.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have stalled over the issue of settlement construction, with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas refusing to resume negotiations without a ban on Jewish building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to implement another freeze. A previous 10-month ban on Jewish building in the West Bank expired in late September, sinking peace talks that had begun weeks earlier.

In addition, respondents on each side said they were scared of an attack from the other, with 54 percent of Israelis saying they were worried they or their family could be "harmed by Arabs in their daily life."

On the Palestinian side, 75 percent said they were worried they or a family member "might be hurt by Israelis or that their land might be confiscated or homes demolished," the poll found.

The poll was carried out jointly by Hebrew University's Harry S. Truman Research Institute and the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research.

It surveyed 511 Israeli Jews and 408 Arab Israelis, weighted according to their proportion in the population, and had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.
The Palestinian portion of the survey questioned 1,270 people in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

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