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The Peace Index:
Date Published: 08/04/2014
Survey dates: 30/03/2014 - 31/03/2014

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Peace Index column

Chances for success of the U.S.-sponsored negotiations – Even before the recent crisis erupted in the U.S. mediation efforts to shepherd Israel and the Palestinians toward a peace agreement, the Israeli Jewish public’s belief in these efforts’ chances of success declined to an unprecedented nadir with 92% viewing the chances as very low or moderately low. Such a consensus indicates that the feeling is common to all the political camps. Indeed, a segmentation of the responses by self-affiliation with one or another political camp revealed 95% of the right seeing low chances for success, 88.5% of the center, and 87% of the left. In the Arab public as well, the majority sees scant likelihood of the talks’ success, though at 62% this majority is clearly smaller than in the Jewish public.

The urgency for Israel of reaching an agreement – The public is less sharply divided on the question of how urgent it is for Israel to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. A small majority of the Jewish public (52%) believes it is very urgent or moderately urgent, while 45.5% say reaching an agreement is not at all or not very urgent from Israel’s standpoint. As expected, the gaps between the political camps on this question are very large. The rates of those who think the issue is very urgent or moderately urgent are 37% on the right, 68% in the center, and 87% on the left. The Arab public is also divided on this question, with almost an identical rate as among the Jews—53%—saying the issue is urgent from the Israeli standpoint.

European involvement – How does the Israeli public regard the attempts by Europe, which are parallel to those of the United States, to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and how, according to this public, can Europe contribute to advancing peace? Overall, the Jewish public’s attitude toward the European involvement is extremely reserved: 76% are sure or think Europe is not acting fairly toward Israel on this issue. This skeptical stance probably explains why this public is divided on whether the unprecedented package of economic, political, and security assistance that the European states have offered Israel so as to promote a peace agreement with the Palestinians would affect their personal readiness to support an agreement. Forty-seven percent said Europe was important to Israel and hence this offer would affect, or could affect depending on its actual terms, their personal readiness to support an agreement. Forty-two percent responded that, while Europe is indeed important to Israel, the offer would not affect their readiness to support an agreement. In the view of 7%, Europe is not important to Israel and therefore they have no interest in what it has to offer in the context of a peace agreement. Thus the overwhelming majority of the Jewish public (about 90%) thinks Europe is important to Israel, but for a considerable part of this public that importance apparently is not sufficient to affect its readiness to support a peace agreement even in light of the “package” Europe is offering. A different picture emerges regarding Europe’s efforts to get the Israeli government and members of Knesset to support a peace agreement based on the two-states-for-two-peoples formula. A majority (58%) believes that a significant upgrade of European-Israeli political, economic, and security ties, in tandem with the taking of steps by European governments, businesses, and consumers that will cost Israel dearly if the present situation does not change, including on the settlements issue, would influence the government and the Knesset to support an agreement. A minority of just 10% thinks the government and the Knesset could be gotten to accept an agreement if Europe were to use only the carrot approach, that is, upgrade ties with Israel, and about the same rate (9%) believes using the stick of sanctions would suffice to affect the government’s and the Knesset’s readiness to support an agreement. As for the Arab public, a large minority (48%) views Europe as an unfair mediator in the attempts to reach Israeli-Palestinian peace. Thirty-one percent consider that a combination of carrot and stick, that is, an upgrade of relations with Israel along with penalization for refusal to advance in the process, would produce the best results in terms of influencing the Israeli decision-makers.

Israeli-Turkish relations – According to media reports, Israel and Turkey will soon sign an agreement on ending the crisis that broke out between them over the Mavi Marmara affair. The reports say Israel will pay compensation to the families of the casualties while the Turks will renew diplomatic ties with Israel. In this context we asked: which, in your opinion, of the two states is more responsible for the downturn in relations and how important is it for Israel to improve its ties with Turkey in light of the situation in the Middle East? The responses show that the Jewish public takes firm positions on both questions: on the one hand, an overwhelming majority (81%) views Turkey as more guilty; on the other, a similar majority (73%) sees renewing relations with Turkey as very important or moderately important. In the Arab public, the majority (54%) pins most of the responsibility for the frayed ties with Turkey on Israel, while 79% affirm that it is vitally important to end the dispute.

Yaalon’s criticism of the U.S. administration – Against the background of Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s criticism of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and other places in the world and the negative American reactions to this criticism, we asked whether his statements could significantly damage the political cooperation between the two states. The responses show a Jewish public evenly divided between those who think his statements could cause such damage (46.5%) and those who do not (49%). The public is much more unequivocal on whether Yaalon was right in saying the United States is showing weakness in its foreign policy; the majority (65%) is sure or thinks he is right. At the same time, a clear majority (72%) believes Yaalon was unwise to voice his criticism publicly. In other words, in this case as on the issue of relations with Turkey, the public takes a pragmatic attitude. The Arab public, too, is divided about the possible impact of Yaalon’s criticism on Israeli-U.S, more think that it will have impact (43% Vs. 38%) on the relations. The highest rate of the interviewees (44%) believe his assertions were inaccurate. However, unlike in the Jewish public, the highest rate (48%) said they disagreed that it was unwise to express this criticism publicly.

The performance of ministers in the government – Even though a majority of the Jewish public thinks Yaalon was unwise to criticize U.S. policy publicly, he still gets a relatively high average grade (6.55) for his performance as defense minister, compared, for example, to the low grades received by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (5.45), Health Minister Yael German (5.38), and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (4.27). It should be noted, though, that this average grade awarded by the Jewish interviewees to Yaalon is still only between “sufficient” and “almost good,” and the composite average grade for all four ministers—5.40—is less than “sufficient.” The Arab public gave all the ministers much lower grades than the Jewish public gave them (an average of 4.28), and also ranked them differently: Health Minister Yael German (5.8) came in first followed by Yaalon (4.94), Lapid (3.33), and Lieberman (3.05).

Negotiation index for this month: General sample 45.2 (Jewish sample 40.4)

Graph of the month: The chances that in the coming months Israel and the Palestinians, with mediation and help from the U.S. administration, will succeed to reach a framework for a peace agreement (%)Graph of the month: The chances that in the coming months Israel and the Palestinians, with mediation and help from the U.S. administration, will succeed to reach a framework for a peace agreement (%)

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. This month's survey was conducted by telephone on March 30-31, 2014, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of the adult population aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%. Statistical processing was done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay.


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