Settlers willing to leave West Bank, Gaza survey

Survey by peace group suggests Israeli settlers in West Bank and Gaza would give up their homes if they were suitably compensated.

Most Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would give up their homes if they were compensated for the loss, a new survey suggests.

The survey released on Thursday was conducted by Peace Now, a group opposed to the Jewish settlements.

Peace Now calls the survey the largest poll of settlers ever undertaken. The study contacted 3,200 households in 127 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza strip. A panel of academics supervised the way it was conducted.

Settlers are often painted as ultra-orthodox government-subsidized political diehards who would sooner die on the land they occupy than turn it over to the Palestinians.

But Amiram Goldblum, founder and head of Peace Now's settlements watch committee, says 68 per cent of the settlers polled would respect a government decision for them to leave the land. The only thing most would want is some government money to help them relocate.

"Most of the settlers understand that there is no future for the settlements," he said. "Most Israelis understand that there is no future to the settlements.

"All this financial support must be halted and some of that financial support should be funneled for settlers and compensation for settlers to come back into Israel.

Peace Now says it decided to conduct this survey because of the growing number of media reports featuring people who are already moving out of the settlements.

The survey also found that the people living in settlements for ideological reasons now constitute a minority. Most are living there because of the cheap housing and government tax breaks.