By Jonathan Ferziger
Thirty percent of West Bank settlers living farthest from Israel’s boundaries are willing to leave their homes if fairly compensated, even without a peace agreement, a study showed.
The report released today by Israel’s Blue White Future peace group focuses on 100,000 Israelis living outside larger settlement blocs. It excludes some 250,000 residents in the bigger settlements. The numbers rise to 50 percent if a peace agreement is reached; 40 percent would refuse to leave.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to persuade Palestinians and Israelis to agree on a framework for continuing peace negotiations beyond the nine months they originally approved, ending April 29. President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today at the White House to push for the agreement after a March 3 visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A voluntary evacuation “would unequivocally demonstrate that Israel is serious about seeking a two-state solution” and “increase the chance of the negotiation track succeeding,” said Gilead Sher, a former Israeli peace negotiator who is the group’s co-chairman.
The government hasn’t indicated that it is working on such a plan.
The survey of 501 settlers conducted in August had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.