66% of Canadians say sanctions on Israel would be ‘reasonable’: poll

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, Israel, 30 September 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, Israel, 30 September 2016. EPA/GALI TIBBON / POOL

Two-thirds of Canadians think government sanctions on Israel would be reasonable in light of last year’s UN Security Council resolution condemning the construction of Israeli settlements, according to an EKOS poll sponsored by the non-profit organization Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and partners.

The UN’s December resolution demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” The administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama controversially abstained from voting, effectively allowing the Security Council to adopt the resolution.

Obama’s successor Donald Trump, then the President-elect, criticized the resolution as showing “total disdain and disrespect” towards Israel, but appeared to shift his stance after taking office.

WATCH: U.S. abstains from UN vote to end Israeli settlement building

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U.S. abstains from UN vote to end Israeli settlement building

The poll found Bloc Quebecois supporters (94 per cent) and Liberals (75 per cent) were most supportive of sanctions on Israel, while a third of Conservative Party supporters agreed that sanctions would be reasonable.

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Respondents were even more supportive of boycotts, with 78 per cent deeming Palestinian calls for boycotts on Israel reasonable.

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In early 2016, Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for boycotts against various Israeli institutions as well as the withdrawal of investments in the Middle Eastern state.

READ MORE: Israeli PM Netanyahu slams Obama over UN vote on Israeli settlements

However, the survey found an overwhelming majority of Liberals (88 per cent) and Bloc Quebecois supporters (94 per cent) expressed support for boycotts, while Conservatives were split down the middle.

“These results are particularly stunning in light of the vilification of those calling for sanctions and boycotts by leaders of both the Conservative and Liberal parties,” CJPME president Tom Woodley said in a press release.

READ MORE: Gov. Gen. David Johnston ends Middle East tour calling for Israeli, Palestinian peace

The poll also found that far more Canadians had a negative perception of the Israeli government (46 per cent) than a positive one (28 per cent). There was a clear generational divide on the matter, with only 17 per cent of millennials fielding a positive opinion of the Israeli government, compared to 37 per cent of people aged 65 and over.

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Education levels were also a factor, with 60 per cent of university graduates holding a negative opinion, compared to 39 per cent of those with a high school education or less.

*The survey was conducted by EKOS Research Associates between Jan. 25 and Feb. 2, 2017, with a random sample of 1,000 Canadian adults aged 18 and over. The margin of error associated with the in-scope sample is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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