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The Peace Index:
Survey dates: 22/10/2012 - 24/10/2012

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the October Index

With elections approaching both in the United States and Israel, the October Peace Index survey concentrated on some electoral issues. The survey was conducted a few days before the announcement of the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu merger—a development likely to influence the intentions of voters and their positions on other issues the survey examined.

Jews prefer—Romney; Arabs—Obama. A clear majority of the Jewish public (57%) believes that, when it comes to Israel’s interests, it is preferable that Republican candidate Mitt Romney be elected the next president of the United States. Only 22% think the same about the incumbent, President Barack Obama. This preference well reflects the Jewish public’s prevalent rightwing tendency in the foreign and defense sphere (55.5% now define themselves as right or moderate right, 31% as center, and only 17% as left or moderate left). Indeed, among those defining themselves as on the right, 70% prefer Romney and only 13% favor Obama. In the center, too, the clear preference is for Romney with rates of 54% and 25% respectively. The opposite is true for the left, where Romney lags behind: only 30% see him as preferable for Israel, with 51% favoring Obama. The Arab public, for its part, shows a clear preference for the incumbent: 45% view Obama as better in terms of Israel’s interests, while only 15% say the same about Romney (the rest have no clear opinion).

Jews—the U.S. elections will not influence the Israeli elections; Arabs—the opposite. Along with the clear preference for Romney, 69% of the Jews surveyed think or are sure that the U.S. election results will have no direct effect on how people will vote in Israel’s elections. A majority (51%) of the Arab public, though, believes the U.S. results will affect the voting in Israel.

An overwhelming majority of Jews intends to go to the polls; the Arabs are less sure. Judging by the “declarations of intent” of the respondents in this survey, it appears—as the electoral process for the next Knesset gets underway—that voter turnout will be very high in the upcoming election: 90% of Jews say they are sure (73%) or think (17%) they will vote. An analysis by age and by self-identification with a political camp did not yield significant differences. There is less certainty about whom to vote for: 43% of the Jewish respondents are sure at present whom they will choose and another 31% are moderately sure of whom they will choose (a total of 74%). As for the Arab respondents, only 47% said they are sure or think they will go to the polls, 28% think or are sure they will not vote, and the rest have no definite answer at present. On the other hand, among those who think or are sure they will vote, a clear majority (65%) are sure or think they already know for whom.

Jews want to know how many white slips there will be; Arabs are divided on the matter. Possibly because they anticipate that many people will cast white slips (blank ballots that serve as a form of protest vote) in the ballot box, a clear majority (69%) of Jews prefer that the number of white slips be published separately—even though, at present, white slips are tallied together with invalidated votes. The Arab respondents are split quite evenly on this question: 46% want a separate count for white slips, while 45% do not.

Jews affirm that ideology is more important to them than the party leader; among Arabs, the order is reversed. On the question of their main consideration when deciding which party to vote for—the party's leader or ideology—the Jewish public’s position is clear: 51.5% say the most important factor is the party's ideology while 27% say it is the leader. As one would expect, ideology has greater weight for the older age groups than the younger ones, and the opposite is true regarding the importance of the leader. For all the Jewish age groups, though, the declared order is ideology first and leader second. A segmentation by political camps did not reveal any significant differences on this issue. Among Arab respondents the picture is different: the highest rate—38%—chose the party's leader as the factor that most influences their choice, while 29% said ideology was more important.

Jews—peace and security, society, and economy; Arabs—peace and security, economy, and society. When respondents ranked the relative importance of select ideological issues in determining their choice of party, an important finding is that none of the ideological issues carries a decisive majority for the Jewish public. Less than half (42%) of the Jewish respondents chose peace and security as most important; 31% opted for the party’s positions on social issues, such as reducing socio-economic gaps and education; and 21% put maintaining economic stability at the top of the ladder. Combining social and economic issues together yields a total of 52%, more than the percentage of those who chose peace and security as most important—seemingly reflecting a noteworthy change in the Israeli Jewish public’s order of priorities. A segmentation by political camps shows significant differences: on the right, the order is peace and security, economy, and society; in the center, the order is economy, peace and security, followed by society; on the left, the order is society, peace and security, and economy. As for the Arab public, the peace and security issue enjoys a clear-cut preference at 59%. Economic issues (25.5%) come in second, with only 12% putting social issues at the top.

Jews—Netanyahu did not miss opportunities for peace; Arabs—he did. A majority of the Jewish public (53%) believes that during the tenure of the current Netanyahu government there were no opportunities to renew negotiations with the Palestinians. About one-third think there were such opportunities. The Arab public, however, theses the picture as reversed: the majority (59%) thinks Netanyahu did miss chances for peace with the Palestinians during these years.

A low expectation of change in the security sphere after the elections. Sixty percent of Israeli Jews think that whatever government is formed after the elections, the policy on the Palestinian issue will not differ to any significant extent. This perception is probably connected to the relatively small gap between those who see a clear difference between Likud’s and Labor’s positions on foreign and defense issues (50%) and those who see no clear difference between them (38%). Paradoxically, the Arabs have a very similar view on this matter: 65% of them think that whatever government takes shape after the elections, the policy in the security sphere will be similar.

A lack of clarity about the socioeconomic direction after the elections. The Jewish public is, however, divided on whether there will be differences on social and economic issues depending on which government is elected. Forty-nine percent think there will be differences, while 46% think policies on social and economic issues will be pretty much the same in any case. A majority (63%) of the Arab public views this the same way as the security issue, expecting policies to be similar whatever the composition of the next government.

Jews—don’t want Arabs in the coalition; Arabs—want them. A considerable majority of the Jewish public (64%) opposes the inclusion of Arab parties in the coalition to be formed after the elections. In the Arab public, not surprisingly, a majority—albeit not very large (56%)—would like to see Arab parties in the coalition.

The Negotiations Index for October, 2012
The Peace Index project includes ongoing monitoring of the Israeli public's attitudes towards peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The monthly Negotiation Index is comprised of two questions, one focusing on public support for peace negotiations and the other on the degree to which the public believes that such talks will actually lead to peace. The aggregated replies to these two questions are calculated, combined, and standardized on a scale of 0-100, in which 0 represents total lack of support for negotiations and lack of belief in their potential to bear fruit, and 100 represents total support for the process and belief in its potential. Each month, the
Negotiations Index presents two distinct findings, one for the general Israeli population and the other for Jewish Israelis.

Negotiation Index: General Sample 45.5; Jewish sample: 44.8

Graph of the month: To what extent are you sure today that you will be voting in the upcoming elections?

Graph of the month: To what extent are you sure today that you will be voting in the upcoming elections?

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 October 22-24, by the Dahaf Institute. The survey included 601 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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