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January




The Peace Index:
January
 
2016
Date Published: 02/02/2016
Survey dates: 26/01/2016 - 28/01/2016

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This month the Peace Index focused on Israeli-Palestinian relations in the present and the future, and on Israel’s relations with the United States in particular and the international community in general, against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict.

No trust, but a desire to talk: Even today, after all the upturns and, particularly, deteriorations in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, the same dissonance recurs between the mistrust the Israeli Jewish public feels toward the Palestinian leadership and its declared desire for a continuation of the Jerusalem-Ramallah dialogue. A large majority (72%) does not trust Mahmoud Abbas, who, in a meeting he held about two weeks ago with Israeli journalists at the Mukata compound in Ramallah, said he had recently conveyed clear messages to Israel about his desire to meet with Netanyahu but, so far, had not received a reply. A segmentation of the issue of trust in Abbas’s words by political camps shows that, among those defining themselves as left-wing, a 68% majority trusts the Palestinian leader, but in the center only 37% put trust in his words and just 7% do so on the right. At the same time, a majority of 67% of Israeli Jews nevertheless support a meeting between the two leaders sometime soon. All those who identified themselves as left-wing favor such a meeting along with 92% of those who located themselves in the center. On the right, however, less than half (46%) want to see such a meeting. Among the Arabs, the majority (63%) trusts Abbas’s statements and 85% support a meeting between him and Netanyahu.

Bennett is right: A certain majority of the Jewish sample (58%) agreed with the criticism that Minister Naftali Bennett and others directed in the government and the Knesset at the defense minister and the prime minister, namely that Yaalon and Netanyahu’s policy toward the Palestinians is insufficiently tough and effective. A segmentation by voting for the Knesset in the latest elections reveals that among voters for all the parties—except for Meretz, the Zionist Union, and Kulanu—a majority says Bennett’s criticism of the prime minister and the defense minister is on the mark. Not surprisingly, among the Arabs three-fourths disagree with the criticism.

Doubts about a Herzog-type separation: The Jewish public is divided in its view of opposition leader Isaac Herzog’s assertion that Israel should separate as much and as rapidly as possible from the Palestinians, building a wall to separate the Palestinian villages in the Jerusalem area from the city: 49% favor such a policy while 44% oppose it. A segmentation of the views on this issue by voting for the Knesset found the highest support for Herzog’s position among Yisrael Beiteinu and Likud voters (78% and 64% respectively). Among voters for Herzog’s own Zionist Union party, however, a higher rate (49%) opposes his stance compared to only 43% who back it. The strongest disagreement with Herzog’s separation plan, presumably for mutually contradictory reasons, emerged among Meretz (75%) and Habayit Hayehudi (55%) voters. As for the Arab interviewees, 92% were against the proposed separation.

Unequal application of the law in the territories: We asked several questions about U.S. ambassador Dan Shapiro’s statements of concern that Israel, in the West Bank, is unequally applying the law to Jews and Palestinians. A small majority of the Jewish public (53%) thinks that Israel is not conducting such a policy. However, it appears that many of our respondents do not see that as negative: 50% regard the unequal application of the law as justified while only 40% object to it. A segmentation on the question about the justice of selectively applying the law shows that, among those defining themselves as right-wing, about two-thirds justify the policy, compared to 42% in the center and only 18% on the left.

A clear majority of the Jewish public (58%) holds the view that, even taking into account the close relations between the two countries, the United States does not have the right to comment to Israel on issues of that sort. Here too the difference between the political camps is very large: on the right about 70% think the United States does not have the right to make such remarks to Israel, compared to about 50% of those placing themselves in the center and only about 20% of those situating themselves on the left. With or without connection to the question of the United States’ right to direct such comments at Israel, a decisive majority of the Jewish public (74%) believes that Israel will not change its policy because of the United States’ unease about how it applies the law in the territories. In other words, the Jewish public apparently considers that the Israeli government can allow itself to ignore criticism by the United States, its closest friend, perhaps assuming that this friendship will not suffer even if Israel does not respond to the request to apply the law more equally in the territories, or that the matter is too critical to heed the words of another country, however close a friend.

The whole world is against us: And if that is the position toward Israel’s great friend, the United States, it is all the more the attitude toward the international community as a whole. To the question of whether the international community’s criticism of Israeli policy takes the national interests of the two sides, Israeli and Palestinian, equally into account, 82% of the Jewish public responded that they are sure (54%) or think (28%) that it does not do so; that is, the international community heeds Israel’s interests less than those of the Palestinians. Only among Meretz voters in the recent elections did more interviewees say that the international community cares about the two sides’ interests equally than those who thought the opposite.

It is no wonder, then, that to the question of whether Israel should or should not relate seriously to the international community’s criticism of its policy in the territories, the majority (56%) responded that Israel should not take this criticism seriously. That position is, though, somewhat puzzling in light of the fact that the majority (56%) believes that, in the coming years, there are very high or moderately high chances that the international community will impose substantial pressures on Israel to put an end to its control of the territories. In other words, even though the majority of the Jewish public acknowledges the high probability of pressures from the international community, it apparently does not fear them. Furthermore, to the question of whether one agrees or disagrees with the claim that if Israel’s control of the territories continues in the same form, the international community will treat Israel as a South Africa-type apartheid state with all that this entails, 49% answered negatively, 39% positively, and 12% did not know what to reply.

Evidently in light of the international community’s inability to induce Israel to end the occupation, and in contrast to the finding among the Jews, a clear majority (70%) of the Arabs see low chances that Israel will come under external pressures to end its control of the territories. Fifty-one percent (vs. 23.5%) agree that if Israel’s control of the Palestinian territories continues in the same form, the international community will treat Israel as a South Africa-type apartheid state with all the ramifications.

Has the time come to annex?: As the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War approaches, the issue of whether it is time to annex the territories or, conversely, to put an end to the occupation is all the more on the agenda. We asked: “Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. Some claim that the time has come for Israel to formally annex all the territories conquered in the war that it still holds. Do you support or oppose this?” In the Jewish public we found 45% favoring annexation and exactly the same rate opposing it.

Continuing the occupation: A considerable majority of the Jewish public (61%) opposes the view that: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is perhaps not ideal but can continue for many more years without posing a threat to Israel’s security and existence.” It appears, then, that even among those who support annexation, a significant number recognize the dangers entailed by continued occupation.
Occupation and democracy: A clear majority of the Jews (66%) disagree with the claim that the ongoing control of the territories prevents Israel from being a real democracy. A segmentation by political camps reveals that, on the left, 85% agree that the occupation prevents Israel from being a real democracy, compared to 30% of those locating themselves in the center and only 11% of right-wingers. This finding apparently reflects the profound disagreements in the Israeli Jewish public about the effects of controlling the territories and also, presumably, about the real nature of democracy. Not surprisingly, the Arabs take the opposite view: 76% believe that the occupation prevents Israel from being a real democracy.

Negotiations Index: 45.4 (Jews 42.4)

Diagram of the month: What are the chances that in the coming years the international community will impose substantial pressures on Israel to put an end to its control of the territories? (%)
Diagram of the month: What are the chances that in the coming years the international community will impose substantial pressures on Israel to put an end to its control of the territories? (%)


The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. This month's survey was conducted by telephone on January 26-28, 2016, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel 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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