‘Third of settlers would relocate if compensated’

By Nathan Jeffay, March 20, 2014
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Many residents in outlying settlements are prepared to relocate in return for compensation, according to a new survey.

Pollsters spoke to Israelis who live in the West Bank outside of the main settlement blocks, and found that around 30 per cent would relocate regardless of whether or not there is a peace deal.

They also tried to determine, if a peace deal was made, what ratio of settlers would take a compensation package and relocate ahead of a military evacuation, and what percentage would stay in their homes until the bitter end. Presuming that a Palestinian state would run along widely anticipated lines, pollsters concluded that 50 per cent would leave before evacuation day.

“If you had asked me in the past, I’d say I would never leave this place,” said a settler from a small community. “But sometimes, when it becomes more dangerous, I feel guilty that I put my own family in danger.” She also regrets the fact many friends decline to pass the checkpoint near her settlement to visit her.

The woman, who has lived in her settlement since she built it out of “pure Zionism” in the 1970s, said that she would consider accepting compensation to leave ahead of a peace deal. However, “it’s not simple, because my husband won’t hear anything about it”.

Orni Petruschka, co-chair of the left-wing organisation Blue White Future, which commissioned the poll, said it shows that even among settlers there is wide acceptance of the idea of relocating for peace. He believed that Israel should start offering compensation packages now to illustrate its seriousness about peace. “It will demonstrate that we don’t just talk the talk but also walk the walk.”

Nadia Matar, chair of the right-wing movement Women in Green and resident of the Efrat settlement in the Etzion bloc, claimed that the poll should not be believed, calling it a “propaganda tool to mislead people and make them think that we want to leave.”

Last updated: 2:30pm, March 20 2014