A survey of British Jews has found that more than half of respondents would support Israeli government negotiations with Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement that controls the Gaza Strip.

The survey, conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, found that three-quarters of respondents favor a two-state solution for Israel to live in peace with its neighbors in the Middle East. Two-thirds of those surveyed also favor swapping land for peace, while opposing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The survey report, “Committed, Concerned and Conciliatory: The attitude of Jews in Britain towards Israel,” is described by the JPR as “the most definitive study ever conducted of the attitude of Jews in Britain towards Israel.”

The study also found that a majority of respondents are concerned about Israel’s security, support the country’s separation barrier/security fence, and describe as “a legitimate act of self-defense” the 2008-2009 military operation in Gaza.

“Jews in Britain are pro-Israel and pro-peace,” JPR executive director Jonathan Boyd said in a July 15 statement to accompany the launch of the survey report.

“Their hawkishness on some issues is typically motivated by a clear concern for Israel’s security, while their dovishness on others reflects a deep-set desire to see the country at peace both with itself and with its neighbors,” added Boyd.

A majority of respondents (52 percent vs. 39 percent) favors negotiating with Hamas to achieve peace in the Middle East.

The report was based on more than 4,000 individual responses, with fieldwork conducted by Ipos MORI, and with the support of several leading experts in Jewish demography and sociology.

The findings suggest that:

  • More than nine out of ten Jews have visited Israel, and a similar number consider it their “ancestral homeland”;
  • Four-fifths of respondents say Israel plays a central or important role in their Jewish identities, and one in five says he or she is very or fairly likely to live there in the future; and
  • A majority (53 percent vs. 45 percent) believes that Jews living in Britain have the right to judge Israel, and nearly three-quarters believe that Jews should be free to speak their mind about Israel in the British media in at least some, if not all circumstances.