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Survey: Most Israelis continue to support accession to European Union

An EU flag pictured during a pro-European Union demonstration in the Greek city of Thessaloniki on July 2, 2015
Sakis Mitrolidis (AFP)
The survey also notes a downward spiral over the last decade regarding the views of Israelis towards the EU.

A majority of Israelis continue to be in favor of an Israerli accession to the European Union (EU), according to a survey released on Tuesday by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a German pro-EU think tank.

The survey, which measured the opinions of a representative group of the Israeli population consisting of 1000 participants, showed that 56% of respondents believe Israel should join the political union. Moreover, 54% said they would be in favor of Israel joining the North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO) military alliance.

While the results indicate a sympathetic mood for the EU from Israeli population, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation also notes that it has also seen a significant downward spiral over the last decade in the views of Israelis towards the EU. The most recent figure of 56% supporting accession to the EU is some 20 percentage points lower than a decade ago when approximately 75% expressed backing for such a move.

Moreover, the overall percentage of favorability towards the EU has decreased from a majority to a mere plurality of Israelis. In 2007, three fifths of Israelis held favorable views towards the EU with barely over a third expressing negative views. Almost a decade later, the figure holding positive views fell fourteen percentage points to 46%.

The pro-EU think tank disputed the claim that the decrease in favorability was a result of the EU Commission’s decision to label Israeli products made in the West Bank as separate from the rest of Israeli exports, pointing towards the continued downward trend over a span of some ten years. In 2014, the favorability ratings had already fallen to 53% for example.

At the same time, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation expressed hope that the most recent survey may at least indicate that the downward spiral has reached a bottom. Its survey showed that favorability towards the EU increased in year by 1 percentage point to 46% by the end of 2016.

“It might not be sustainable and it might not be a reversal of the trend, but we were thrilled to see that after a constant drop of EU favorability in Israel this downward spiral has obviously come to an end,” said Michael Borchard, a political scientist with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, during a press conference Tuesday in Jerusalem.

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NATO yes, EU NO.

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