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The Peace Index:
Date Published: 23/09/2014
Survey dates: 16/09/2014 - 18/09/2014

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This year’s survey addresses four main issues: retrospective assessments of Operation Protective Edge, the international community against Islamic State (ISIS), rating of the Israeli leadership’s performance, and the public’s sentiments about the new year that is about to begin.

Who achieved more in Operation Protective Edge? In hindsight, the prevailing opinion in the Jewish public is that Israel achieved more in the campaign than Hamas (46%); only 13% think Hamas achieved more than Israel. However, if one adds that minority to the one-fourth of the interviewees who think the two sides scored equal achievements, along with the 14% who believe that neither side achieved anything, it appears that over half of the Jewish interviewees (52%) are “not enthused” by the results of the campaign. The general pattern of responses is similar in the three political camps—right, center, and left—but at different rates as one would of course expect. Among the Israeli Arabs the prevailing answer is that Hamas achieved more in the conflict (40%), with only 4.5% saying Israel achieved more.

The operation’s effect on national security: In the same vein, to the question: “Since the operation has Israel’s national security improved, remained the same, or deteriorated?,” the most common answer in the Jewish public is that it has remained the same (46%), with almost equal rates saying it has improved (27%) or deteriorated (24%). A segmentation by political camps shows that this is more or less the general pattern in all of them, but the rate of those who think the campaign has improved Israel’s security situation is higher on the right than in the center and on the left. Similarly, the rate of those who think the situation has worsened is clearly higher on the left than in the center and on the right. Among the Israeli Arabs, the majority (65%) thinks Israel’s security has been damaged by the operation.

The 8200 protest: During Operation Protective Edge much was said about an erosion in the Israeli Jewish public’s level of tolerance for atypical views about the campaign and its justification. Recently reservists of the intelligence unit 8200 published a letter stating that they are not prepared to serve any further because some of the unit’s actions contribute to immoral deeds, such as the killing of innocent Palestinians and unnecessary infringement of Palestinians’ privacy. This letter, the timing of whose publication just after Operation Protective Edge is no coincidence, does not evoke sympathy among the overwhelming majority of the Jewish public: 82% say such refusal to serve on a moral basis is inappropriate. This response apparently indicates that the discomfort with the operation’s results and concomitant criticism of the Israeli leadership do not stem from concerns among the general Jewish public about the commission of immoral acts during the operation, but apparently from much more prosaic concerns, such as the low rate we found in the previous survey for those who think the operation had sufficiently clear objectives, while those objectives that were clear were viewed as having been achieved only to a limited extent. Notably, we found a majority opposed to the measure taken by the 8200 veterans in all the political camps, but the size of this majority differs greatly: 90% on the right, 76% in the center, 58% on the left. Among the Israeli Arabs an unequivocal majority (74%) sees the action by the Unit 8200 reservists as appropriate.

Renewing negotiations with the Palestinians? We asked: “In light of the changes now occurring in the Middle East, including the growing Egyptian involvement in Israeli-Palestinian contacts since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, in your opinion is the time right or not right to renew the political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians?” The responses indicate a quite even division between those who think the time is right for such a resumption and those who think it is not, though the rate of those who favor renewing the talks (50%) is a bit higher than the rate of opponents (44%). A segmentation of the responses by political camps shows that, while on the right the rate of supporters of renewing the talks does not exceed one-third, in the center and on the left an overwhelming majority supports doing so (78% in the center and almost 90% on the left). About two-thirds (64%) of the Arab public views the current conditions as appropriate for renewing the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Negotiations with Hamas: A completely different picture emerges from the Jewish public’s answers on whether Israel should or should not agree to include Hamas in the talks with the Palestinians. Here the interviewees were reminded about an opinion poll finding that Hamas’s status had greatly improved among the Palestinians and that it would win Palestinian Authority elections if held at present. On this question the positions of the Jewish public are unequivocal: 72% think or are sure that Israel should not agree to sit with Hamas at the negotiating table even after Operation Protective Edge. In other words, negotiations with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority are acceptable to a majority, albeit small, of the Jewish public, on condition that Hamas is not included. On this question most of the political camps agree, though on the “hard” left only a minority (25%) opposes negotiating with Hamas. The Arab public’s positions on this issue are a mirror-image of the Jewish public’s views: a clear majority (69.5%) thinks Israel should conduct talks with Hamas.

We now move on to positions on the international community against Islamic State (ISIS).

American determination: The majority (60%) of the Jewish public assesses that the U.S. administration headed by President Obama and the American people are not sufficiently determined to fight ISIS until victory. In the Arab public as well, the majority (55%) views the Americans as not sufficiently resolved to fight ISIS to the end.

ISIS’s determination: There is sweeping agreement (83%) in the Jewish public that ISIS is indeed sufficiently determined to keep fighting until victory. The rate of those in the Arab public who see ISIS as determined to fight until victory is indeed lower than among the Jews (59%), but this is still a clear majority; when assessing the Americans’ resolve the majority was in the opposite direction.

ISIS and Israel’s national security. Even though the Jewish public views ISIS as determined to achieve its goals, it agrees for the most part (55%) with the position of a former head of Israeli Military Intelligence that ISIS does not constitute a danger to Israel. However, a large minority of the Jews (39%) accept the position of the prime minister, who recently spoke of the great danger that ISIS poses to Israel. Among the Arabs a small minority (53%) believes that ISIS does not constitute a substantial danger to Israel’s security, though a sizable minority (43%) sees ISIS as imperiling Israel’s existence.

And as for evaluations of the government’s performance:

Trust in the system: A considerable majority of the Jewish public (61%) does not currently extend trust to the Israeli leadership. Note that a segmentation by political camps shows that even among those locating themselves on the right, slightly over half do not feel trust in the leadership. In the center this rate comes to about two-thirds and on the left to about 80%. As for the Arab public, the majority that does not feel trust in the Israeli leadership is even larger (69.5%).

Level of (dis)satisfaction with the behavior of the party one voted for in the elections: That trend perhaps also explains why only a small majority (52%) is satisfied with the behavior of the party they voted for in the 2013 elections. A segmentation of satisfaction by party the interviewee voted for shows that those most satisfied with their party’s performance so far are voters for Torah Judaism (93%) and for Meretz (80%). The least satisfied are voters for Yesh Atid (40% satisfied). Among the Arab interviewees, about one-fourth said they had not voted in the latest elections (a figure that is lower than the official figures); however, a relatively high rate (38%) are not satisfied with their party’s behavior since the elections (compared to 28% who are satisfied).

The government’s performance: Despite the lack of enthusiasm over the results of Operation Protective Edge, a majority of the Jewish public (61.5%) is very or moderately satisfied with the government’s performance in the security domain. However, in the fields of the economy and attentiveness to the citizen, the government gets very low grades: less than one-third of the Jewish interviewees (28%) are satisfied with the government’s economic performance, and the attitude is similar regarding its attentiveness to the citizens (30%). A segmentation by political camps showed similar inclinations in all of them.

And as for the new year that is about to begin:

The national mood: A small majority of the Jewish public (54%) characterizes the national mood in Israel today as not good at all or not so good.

The overall situation of the country: Among the Jewish public, the current rate of those who are dissatisfied with the situation is quite high (58.5%). A segmentation by political camps showed that about half of those locating themselves on the right are dissatisfied with the country’s overall situation at present, about 60% of those situating themselves in the center, and about 70% of those placing themselves on the left. Among the Arab interviewees, actually a larger percentage (52%) expressed satisfaction with the country’s situation at present.

And in the coming year? The most common response in the Jewish public is that the country’s situation will remain as it is in the coming year as well (34.5%). The rate of those who think it will improve comes to 27.5%, while 24% expect it to worsen. As for the Arabs, far more (42%) fear that in the coming year the country’s situation will deteriorate.

Overall personal situation: Unlike the assessment of the national situation, where the balance leaned in the negative direction, on the personal level the rate of satisfaction is higher both relatively and absolutely (Jews—75%, Arabs—73%).

And in the coming year? Here too the prevailing feeling among the Jewish respondents is that the situation will remain the same (45%). Unlike in the national forecast, however, here the rate of those who think their situation will improve (38%) is much higher than of those who expect their personal situation to get worse (8%). The most common assessment among the Arabs was that one’s personal situation will improve (36.5%).

Peace Index—41.9 (Jewish sample—39.8)

Graph of the month: Satisfaction with the government’s performance in the fields of security, the economy, and attentiveness to the citizen (% of very satisfied and moderately satisfied, entire sample)Graph of the month: Satisfaction with the government’s performance in the fields of security, the economy, and attentiveness to the citizen (% of very satisfied and moderately satisfied, entire sample)

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Surveys of the Israel Democracy Institute. This month's survey was conducted by telephone on September 16-18, 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 survey was conducted in Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian. The maximum sampling 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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