Young Israelis are moving much further to the right politically, according to a survey to be released Thursday.
The study found that 60 percent of Jewish teenagers in Israel, between 15 and 18 years old, prefer “strong” leaders to the rule of law, while 70 percent say that in cases where state security and democratic values conflict, security should come first. A similar picture emerges in the 21 to 24 age group.
The comprehensive survey was conducted on behalf of Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation, in cooperation with the Macro Center for Political Economics, by the Dahaf Institute.
According to the authors, the report shows a strengthening of Jewish-nationalist beliefs among Jewish youths, and a clear weakening of the importance given to the state’s liberal-democratic base.
Among Jewish youths, support for the definition of Israel as a Jewish state as the most important goal for the country grew from 18.1 percent in 1998 to 33.2 percent last year, the survey reports. At the same time, there has been a consistent drop in those who back the importance of Israel’s identity as a democratic country – from 26.1 percent in 1998 to 14.3 percent in 2010.
Support for Israel to eventually live in peace with its neighboring countries also fell significantly, from 28.4 percent 12 years ago to 18.2 percent last year. This is the third such survey of young people conducted by the two organizations in the past 12 years.
The study was carried out in July 2010, among a representative sample of Jewish and Arab youth. It included 1,600 participants, 800 aged 15-18 and 800 21-24, which is considered a relatively large group.
The right wing enjoyed a clear majority of support among the young people surveyed. Among Jews, the numbers stood at 57 percent and 66 percent for the two age groups respectively, while those who said they considered themselves to be left wing made up only 13 percent and 10 percent of those respondents.
The support for the right rose overall from 48 percent to 62 percent during the study’s 12-year period, while support for the left fell from 32 percent to 12 percent.
As to the possibility of peace with the Palestinians, 755 of the Jewish respondents said they do not believe negotiations will lead to peace, and most prefer that the present situation continue.
As Palestinians commemorate Land Day, the anniversary of an uprising against Israel’s land confiscation, a report from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics released a report showing Israel’s settlement project is rapidly escalating.
Thirty-five years on from the uprising, in which six young protesters were killed by Israeli forces, Palestinians constitute almost half of the population of the Palestine under the British Mandate, but have access to less than 15 percent of the land, the PCBS report said.
Israel’s separation wall has confiscated around 733 square kilometers of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, the report notes. Israel says the wall was built to prevent attacks, but its route runs deep inside the West Bank, often as far as 22 kilometers, according to UN reports. Land between the wall and the Green Line has been used for illegal Israeli settlements and military bases.
PCBS found that in 2010, Israel built 6,794 Jewish-only housing units on occupied Palestinian land, four times more than in 2009.
Israel is considering building an artificial island with sea and air ports off blockaded Gaza, as a long-term solution to shipping goods into the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave, the transport minister said.
Yisrael Katz told Army Radio on Wednesday he wants an international force to control the island for “at least 100 years” and for unloaded cargo to be brought into Gaza along a 4.5-km (3-mile)-long bridge with a security checkpoint to prevent arms smuggling.
“The Israeli military would continue the naval blockade, but in a more localised way,” he said.
Katz said he had pitched the project to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him to put together a plan, which “has been under examination for many months” by experts.
A spokesman for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority described the idea as “pure fantasy” and an attempt by Israel “to divert attention from the real problems of Gaza resulting from the Israeli siege”.