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June




The Peace Index:
June
 
2014

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The data for the index were compiled on the 19th day (June 30, 2014) after the kidnapping of the three teenage boys in Gush Etzion. That evening, when the discovery of the bodies was announced, the survey was stopped.1

Assessment of the security organizations’ preparedness to carry out their tasks: In the context of the security situation after the kidnapping of the boys, we looked into how the public viewed the security organizations’ preparedness to carry out their various tasks. Apparently the IDF was perceived as better prepared than the Shin Bet (General Security Service) and than the police to perform the tasks entrusted to it: 41% thought the IDF was well prepared compared to 36% who thought the Shin Bet was well prepared and only 17% who thought so about the police (moderately prepared: IDF—32%, Shin Bet—26%, police—26%). Perhaps because of the foul-up by the police emergency hotline on the night of the kidnapping, the public was divided when it came to the police’s preparedness, with a slight advantage for those who thought it was not prepared (47%) over those who thought it was prepared (43%). As for the Shin Bet, which is a clandestine service, the rate of those who said they were unable to assess its preparedness level was much higher than for the army and the police (26% compared to 10% for the army and the police).

Assessing Netanyahu’s functioning in the crisis over the three boys’ kidnapping: On a scale from 0 (inadequate) to 10 (excellent), the public gave Netanyahu’s functioning an average grade of 6, which was slightly higher than the medium grade (5). When assessments of the prime minister’s functioning were divided according to political camps, the results were in the direction of what would be expected: among right-wingers the average grade was above the medium but not particularly high (6.8), among centrists the assessment was slightly lower but still above the medium grade (6.2), and among left-wingers the average grade was below the medium grade (4.1). The average grade for the Jews (6.2) was considerably higher than for the Arabs (4.0).

The responsibility of Israel and the Palestinian Authority regarding the boys’ kidnapping: Based on the fact that the kidnappers came from the territory under the PA’s responsibility, 41% of the respondents saw the PA as responsible for the failure to prevent the kidnapping. Only 14% agreed with the claim that Israel was responsible because the kidnapping was carried out in Area A, which is under IDF control. Thirty-six percent saw Israel and the PA as responsible to the same extent (9% did not know).

A majority of Israelis (59%) did not believe in the sincerity of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s condemnation of the kidnapping at the conference of the Arab League foreign ministers. At the same time, there was a numerical advantage for those who considered that from Israel’s standpoint it was desirable to strengthen the PA under Abbas’s leadership (41%), compared to those who preferred to weaken it and bring about its collapse (36%). Here, too, not a few vacillated, with slightly more than one-fifth (23%) saying they did not know which approach was preferable. A strong link emerged between the interviewees’ responses concerning the credibility of Abbas’s condemnation and their position on the need to strengthen or weaken the PA: out of those who believed Abbas’s condemnation, 67% said that from Israel’s standpoint it was desirable to strengthen the PA; out of those who did not believe the condemnation, 50% thought it was desirable to weaken the PA compared to only 26% who saw it as desirable to strengthen it.

Freeing Palestinian prisoners: More than two-thirds (67%) thought Israel’s decision to free Palestinian prisoners instead of freezing construction in the territories, with the aim of showing readiness to resume the negotiations on an agreement with the Palestinians, was not the right decision. As for the decision to release Palestinian prisoners in return for the freeing of Gilad Shalit, the public’s views in retrospect were split: 42% said the decision was right and 41% said it was not right. A small majority (51%) remembered that they supported the prisoner-release deal for Shalit while a sizable minority remembered that they opposed it (40%). As expected, a clear-cut majority of those expressing retrospective support or opposition to the Shalit deal remembered that they supported or opposed the deal at the time.

Prayers for the freeing of the kidnapped boys: In light of the mass prayers that were organized for the freeing of the kidnapped boys, we looked into how much the Israeli public believes that prayers can help. A small majority of the Jewish interviewees (53%) strongly or moderately believed that prayers could help bring back the kidnapped boys (45% of the Jews did not believe in the power of the prayers). About one-fifth (21%) of the Jewish respondents declared that they had participated in one of the public prayers for the wellbeing of the three kidnapped boys.

U.S. foreign policy: Another issue on the global agenda, particularly in light of the upheavals in the Middle East and the crimes being perpetrated in Iraq and Syria by the radical Islamic organization ISIS, is U.S. foreign and security policy. On a scale from 0 (inadequate) to 10 (excellent), the Israeli public gave a low average grade (3.8) to the way in which U.S. president Barack Obama was running his country’s foreign policy. As for specific issues involving U.S. foreign policy, the positions of the Israeli public leaned slightly to the hawkish side though many did not have a position. Forty-two percent thought the United States should intervene militarily in the civil war being waged in Iraq to prevent the insurgents of ISIS, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda, from taking over the country, while 37% opposed a U.S. military intervention in Iraq (21% had no position). Retrospective assessments of President George W. Bush’s decision to launch a war in Iraq in 2003 and overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime revealed that the public was evenly split on the issue: identical rates (41% in both cases) thought the decision was right or not right (18% did not know).


Graph of the month: In your opinion, are the security organizations (IDF, Israel Police, Shin Bet) prepared to carry out the tasks they are entrusted with? (%, entire sample)
Graph of the month: In your opinion, are the security organizations (IDF, Israel Police, Shin Bet) prepared to carry out the tasks they are entrusted with? (%, entire sample)

1 For this reason the number of interviews is lower than for other Peace Index surveys (only 281 interviewees compared to 600 in most of the surveys). In addition, the level of representativeness of the adult Israeli population is lower, though the distribution of the demographic questions attests to the fact that there is reasonable representation of Jews/Arabs, sectors according to religiosity, age groups, and so on. Because the sample was small, the results presented here are for the entire sample, without a segmentation of the data by various population groups.


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. The survey was conducted by telephone on June 30, 2014, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 281 respondents, who constituted an approximation of a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±6.0% at a confidence level of 95%. Statistical processing was done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay.


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