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Supporters of Disengagement Rethink Their Stance

It has been the big question Israeli politicians and analysts have been asking ever since the 2005 disengagement. If Israel could turn the clock back and rewrite the past, would it have left Gaza? According to a new poll, the public hopes not.

Research by the public opinion company Maagar Mochot found that some 68% of Israelis who were in favor of the disengagement regret their stance. The poll did not question people who were against disengagement on any change in their views. The figure seems to vindicate analysts who have suggested that Israelis began to regret the disengagement as a result of rocket bombardment of Southern Israel from an IDF-free Gaza.

While people were not asked for their reasoning, there is a strong hint that it is connected with rocket fire. Only 11% of respondents — those who favored and opposed disengagement — do not see disengagement as the cause of Southern Israel coming under bombardment by Gazan rockets.

Overall, 25% of respondents said that disengagement was justified and 55% said it was a mistake. Now, as you may expect, the regard disengagement as a mistake. But interestingly, among Labor voters, the belief it was a mistake was still relatively widespread: 23%.

Perhaps the most fascinating statistic was that for Kadima voters. One in four Kadima voters — 24% to be precise — see disengagement as having been a mistake. If you recall, the very reason for establishing Kadima was to facilitate the disengagement. Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister for Likud, could not secure his party’s support for disengagement and so he split off and set up Kadima to drive the measure through.

Of course, how to interpret this depends on your attitude towards Kadima. If you see the party as a fleeting centrist party founded on a single issue which, like other Israeli centrist parties will fade away, this will suggest that the process is underway as voters aren’t even agreed on the founding issue anymore. But if you think Kadima is here to stay, the very fact that the party can count among its voters people who don’t even agree with its founding idea indicates that it can adapt and survive in new times.

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