One of the illusions is we not only have the new American administration by our side, but the public opinion as well. Different surveys do point to significant differences between Americans and Europeans. A BBC poll, for example, found that 52 percent of Americans have a positive attitude towards Israel compared to 36 percent who have a positive attitude. In Britain, only 19 percent have a positive attitude and 72 percent have a negative attitude.
But American sympathy is towards Israel, not towards the Greater Land of Israel. It’s not certain that the Yesha Council has the new Trump administration in its pocket. It is certain that contrary to what too many people in Israel believe, the American public is becoming less and less tolerant of the ongoing expansion of settlements. In November 2015, 37 percent of them were in favor of imposing economic sanctions on Israel for the ongoing construction in the settlements. A year later, that view is already shared by 47 percent. The American public supports Israel, but it is making it clear that on the most controversial issue – among the Israeli public and between Israel and the United States – it is changing its stance.
Some will argue, following the US elections, that polls are worthless. That’s complete nonsense. The polls and pollsters’ error was within the standard deviation. Hillary Clinton, it should be mentioned, beat Donald Trump in the popular vote by more than two million votes. So even if the survey is slightly wrong, it points to the direction.
The poll was conducted by the Brookings Institution, one of the most important research and consultancy groups in Washington. It shows that the support for sanctions has gone up from 49 percent a year ago to 60 percent in the current survey among Democrats, and from 26 to 31 percent among Republicans.
If the Israeli government insists on continuing its current policy, this trend will continue. It’s unclear whether we will lose the administration’s support, but it is clear that Israel is losing support in the public opinion, at least in terms of expanding the settlements.
It’s not the anti-Israel propaganda and it’s not the BDS campaign. There is no need to give them an honor they don’t deserve. It’s the Israeli government. Even pronounced supporters of Israel, who are waging an adamant battle against the BDS, are far from supporting ongoing construction outside the settlement blocs. But the Israeli government is insisting.
The Israeli Right has a lot of correct and justified arguments regarding the Palestinian rejectionism, the fear of Hamas taking over the West Bank as well, the Palestinian incitement and the mistakes made in the Oslo process and in the disengagement. But these correct claims do not lead to the conclusion that the construction outside the blocs should be expanded.
Is the fact that the Palestinians are rejecting the two-states-for-two-people formula lead to the conclusion that we should create one big state? Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is not the only one who understands that. So do many right-wing voters. It’s not the Likud voters who have been dragged to the right, it’s the Likud’s Knesset members and ministers who are becoming more rightist than the Bayit Yehudi party.
The growing support in the US for sanctions against Israel is setting off alarm bells, but the government doesn’t hear a thing.