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JANUARY




The Peace Index:
January
 
2012
Date Published: 08/02/2012
Survey dates: 30/01/2012 - 31/01/2012

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Summary of the Findings

What will the next elections be about? Amid talk of advancing the Knesset elections (88% of respondents said they are sure or think that they will vote in such elections), we checked what the Jewish voters see as the most important factors in deciding which party should receive their vote. A clear majority (82%) said the party’s position on socioeconomic issues would greatly influence their vote. Lower rates of respondents cited the leader of the party and the party's position on foreign and security issues (both 77%). In descending order, the remaining responses included the party’s position on matters of religion and state (66%), its position on the future of the territories (62%), its chances to become part of the government (52%), its chances to form the government (50.5%), and the number of women on its list (32%).

The socioeconomic issue above all? The centrality of the socioeconomic issue also emerged from the Jewish public’s ranking of the goals the government should pursue. At the top is reducing the socioeconomic gaps (34%). Considerably behind it are: improving the security situation (20%), a peace agreement with the Palestinians (17%), and creating housing solutions at reasonable prices (13%). A good deal farther behind are a proper balance between the rights and obligations of the haredim and the non-haredim (5%), a separation between wealth and government, and improving Israel’s status in the international arena (4% each). If we combine the gap-reduction and housing responses, it turns out that about half of the Jewish public (47%) sees the socioeconomic sphere as most important.

Keep the protest going? With a majority of the Jewish public (73.5%) indicating that they think that the government will not implement most of the Trajtenberg Committee’s recommendations, it makes sense that about two-thirds (64%) support renewing the summer's socio-economic protest.

How is the government doing? The prevailing view is that in socioeconomic areas, the Netanyahu government is doing more damage than it is contributing to the national interest: 55% of respondents expressed this view regarding the reduction of gaps, 52% regarding the fight against corruption, 51% regarding the creation of appropriate housing solutions, and 50% regarding the separation of wealth and government. The government gets good grades for its contribution to encouraging economic growth (48% think it is contributing greatly or moderately), and 61% affirm that the government is greatly or moderately contributing to the country’s security situation. Opinions are divided on whether the government is improving or damaging Israel’s international standing, with a slight tilt in the positive direction.

Territories or a Jewish state? Again we found a large majority (76%) preferring that Israel remain a country with a Jewish majority, with one-quarter preferring that Israel continue to rule all of the Land of Israel west of the Jordan. Asked how they would respond if they knew that "continued Israeli rule over the West Bank would lead to one state for Jews and Arabs in the entire Land of Israel that would not have a Jewish majority,” the majority (63%) answered that in this case they would oppose continued rule in the territories. However, the majority (54%) did not agree with the claim that continued rule in the territories will result in a country without a Jewish majority. Some 54% believe that continued rule in the territories will not prevent Israel from remaining a Jewish and democratic state. In other words, the public indeed prefers that Israel be a Jewish state over continued rule over the whole Land of Israel, but most of it does not believe there is a contradiction between the two objectives.

Graph of the month: If Israel continues to control the West Bank, will it eventually result in a country that lacks a Jewish majority? (Percentage of the Jewish public)

Graph of the month: If Israel continues to control the West Bank, will it eventually result in a country that lacks a Jewish majority? (Percentage of the Jewish public)

The Findings in Detail


In light of what is now being said in the media, and with politicians and others hinting that the Knesset elections will be advanced, we decided this month to look into the factors that are likely to impact the next round of voting, at least as it appears at present. First—perhaps influenced by the summer protest and the resulting political tremors and perhaps not, but clearly in contrast to claims about the public’s political apathy—a large majority of respondents expressed a desire to take part in the upcoming elections: 88% of the Jewish public are sure or think they will vote, and 68% of the Arab public say the same.

We therefore checked the importance that Jewish and Arab voters assign to different issues as factors affecting their decision as to which party will receive their vote. A clear majority of the Jews (82%) defined the party’s position on the socioeconomic issue as important or very important. Lower rates cited the leader of the party and the party's position on foreign and security issues (77% each). In descending order, the remaining responses chosen included the party’s position on matters of religion and state (66%) and on the future of the territories (62%), the composition of its list of candidates (55%), its chances of becoming part of the government (52%), its chances to form the government (50.5%), and the number of women on the list (32%). The Arab public assigned less importance to each of these issues, but here too the socioeconomic issue prevailed, along with the party’s position on the future of the territories (62% defined these two factors as very important or important). In descending order, the remaining responses chosen included: foreign and defense policy (57%), the leader of the party (53%), the composition of the Knesset list (50%), and the chances to form a government (which is not realistic for voters for Arab parties and, apparently as a result, came out low at 42%). As with Jewish voters, the number of women on the list came in last, but it was given slightly higher importance than it received among the Jewish public (34%).

The socioeconomic issue’s centrality also emerges from the public's ranking of the goals that the government should pursue. In the Jewish public’s opinion, topping the national priorities today is the goal of reducing socioeconomic gaps (34%).

Considerably behind it are improving the security situation (20%), a peace agreement with the Palestinians (17%), and creating housing solutions at reasonable prices (13%). A good deal farther behind are establishing a proper balance between the rights and obligations of haredim and non-haredim (5%), a separation between wealth and government, and improving Israel’s status in the international arena (4% each). If we combine the gap-reduction and housing responses, it turns out that about half of the Jewish public (47%) sees the socioeconomic sphere as most important. A segmentation of the responses by self-definition on the right-left spectrum shows that all camps assign the greatest importance to the socioeconomic issue, although 93% of those defining themselves as left-wing assigned this importance, as compared to 87% of centrists and 83% of respondents on the right. The gaps are much greater regarding achieving peace with the Palestinians, with only 27% of the right defining this goal as important or very important, compared to 70% of the left.

The Arab public clearly sees a different order of importance. At the top, they rank the goal of signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians (48% ranked it as most important), followed by reducing socioeconomic gaps (21% put it first) and improving Israel’s security situation (11%). Less than 6% of the Arab public assigns substantial importance to the rest of the goals that they were asked to consider.

The public sees a gap between the government’s order of priorities and its own. This emerges from the fact that most of the Jewish public (73.5%) does not expect the government to implement most of the socio-economic recommendations of the Trajtenberg Committee. It makes sense, then, that about two-thirds (64%) support renewing the summer's protest. In the Arab public, only 56% think the government will fail to carry out most of the recommendations of the Trajtenberg Committee, 28% think the government will fulfill them, and 16% do not know. Yet, despite these gaps between Arabs and Jews when it comes to the government’s intentions, 62% of the Arab respondents say the protest should continue—almost identical to the Jewish rate.

The prevailing view in the Jewish public is that in socioeconomic areas the Netanyahu government is doing more damage than it is contributing to the national interest: 55% responded in this manner regarding reducing socioeconomic gaps, 52% regarding the fight against corruption, 51% regarding creating appropriate housing solutions, and 50% regarding creating a separation between wealth and government. The government gets good grades for its contribution to encouraging economic growth (48% think the government is contributing greatly or moderately), and 61% of respondents affirm that the government is greatly or moderately contributing to the country’s security situation. Opinions are divided on whether the government is benefiting or damaging Israel’s international standing, with a slight tilt in the positive direction. In the Arab public the picture is completely different: 72% of Arab respondents think the government is damaging Israel’s security situation and 60% think the same regarding Israel’s international diplomatic standing. The government’s economic performance is perceived less negatively in the Arab public, though, than it is in the Jewish public.

This month, we again checked the Jewish public’s preferences regarding Israel being a state with a Jewish majority or continuing control over the West Bank. Again we found a large majority (76%) preferring that Israel remain a state with a Jewish majority, with one-quarter preferring that it continue to rule all of the Land of Israel west of the Jordan. Asked how they would respond if they “knew that continued Israeli control of the West Bank would lead to one state for Jews and Arabs in the entire Land of Israel that would not have a Jewish majority,” the majority (63%) of Jewish respondents answered that they would oppose continued control of the territories. Here, however, the gaps between those defining themselves as right-wing or left-wing are considerable: about a third of those who define themselves as right-wing, compared to 18% of those calling themselves centrists and only a few percent of those identifying themselves as left, say they would support continued control of the territories even if it led to a joint entity without a Jewish majority.

At the same time, the majority (54%) of the entire Jewish public does not agree with the claim that continued rule in the territories will result in a state that does not have a Jewish majority. Moreover, 54% believe that continued control of the territories will not prevent Israel from remaining a Jewish and democratic state. Here too there are wide gaps based on political self-definition: a large majority of respondents on the right (62%) and a considerable majority of those in the center (57%) do not see a problem here, while a sizable majority (65%) of respondents on the left says continued control will in fact prevent Israel from being both Jewish and democratic. In other words, the public indeed prefers that Israel be a Jewish state over continued rule over the whole Land of Israel, but most of it does not see a contradiction between these two objectives.


The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. This month's survey was conducted by telephone on January 30-31, 2012 by the Dahaf Institute. The survey included 611 respondents, who constitute a representative sample of the adult Jewish population of Israel. The measurement error for a sample of this size is 4.5%; statistical processing was done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay.



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