Sunday, July 10, 2011

Peace Index June: 62% of Israel Jews support Netanyahu's peace formula

*Only 51.4% think Israel is isolated in the international arena.

*52% see the government's functioning on foreign and defense issues, as poor or very poor.

*Only 56% think the Palestinians will declare a state in September at UN.

*70% believe Israel is not likely to face a political and economic tsunami.

*Only 25% of the Jewish public thinks there is a chance of reaching a peace agreement based on the principle of two states for two peoples in the next two or three years.

*Only 26% of the Jewish public is currently prepared to support a full peace agreement with the Palestinians in return for evacuating all the territories of Judea and Samaria, while 70% oppose this.

*50% support a peace agreement that leaves the large settlement blocs in Israel’s hands, and the rate of opposition falls to 45%.

*62% support an agreement that would include retaining the settlement blocs, a Palestinian declaration of an end to the historic conflict, and Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

The The Peace Index June 2011 Findings in Detail:

In recent months, politicians and the media have frequently referred to what is called the "international delegitimization campaign against Israel,” which is being waged on different fronts. Yet the data from this month’s survey shows that such admonitions have not made a substantial impression on the Israeli Jewish public. Indeed, while about half of Jewish respondents (51%) think Israel is isolated at present in the international community, there has been no change for the worse regarding this perception; in fact, there has even been a tiny improvement from the 54% who held this opinion in August 2010. Interestingly, in the Arab public, the rate of those viewing Israel as currently isolated stands at 32%. This is both much lower than the prevailing perception in the Jewish public, and much lower than the perception of Arab respondents a year ago, when 48% of Israel’s Arab citizens saw Israel as isolated in the world.

When it comes to the government’s functioning in the area of Israel’s foreign relations, a small majority (52%) of the Jewish respondents assess the government's functioning as poor. The Arab public is more critical, with 67% giving the government a negative grade. In most cases, a cross-check of the responses to this question of Jewish respondents with their report of their voting in the most recent elections does not yield surprises. Among Likud and Shas voters, 70% say the government’s functioning in the area of foreign relations is good, among Meretz voters not a single person thinks so, and only a small minority of Labor and Kadima voters assess it as such – 22.5% and 25%, respectively. Interestingly, among voters for Yisrael Beiteinu, a party that is considered “far right,” the majority that views the government’s functioning in the realm of foreign relations as good is quite small, at only 55%. Voters for another right-wing party, the National Union (HaIchud HaLeumi), are evenly split between positive and negative assessments. Presumably, in both of those cases, the criticism of the government’s functioning stems from the divergence between the positions of right-wing parties regarding foreign policy and the positions of parties on the left and center.

As to whether the Palestinians will declare an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and seek recognition for it from the UN General Assembly in September, the present survey reveals a significant decline in the rate that the Jewish public thinks such a step will indeed be taken as compared to last month, with a drop from 75% last month to only 58% this month. This change apparently stems from recent media reports that the Palestinian leadership is seeking to “climb down from the tree” and find a substitute for a declaration of statehood and appeal to the UN because of statements indicating that leaders of major Western countries, including the United States and Germany, will not support a unilateral Palestinian measure. In the Israeli Arab public, the rate of those who believe the Palestinian leadership will declare a state in September – 41% – is low, but is higher than in the Jewish public and similar to previous months, when only a minority of Israeli Arabs thought the Palestinians ultimately would declare a state or turn to the UN.

Similarly, the Jewish public has seen a significant decline in the rate of those who think that if the Palestinians declare an independent state and ask the General Assembly to recognize it, a majority of the Assembly will do so: this has dropped from 75% in the two surveys that were conducted last month (before and after Netanyahu’s visit to Washington in May) to 67% this month. In this case, the prevailing view in the Arab public is the reverse, with only 43% foreseeing a General Assembly majority.

The Jewish public’s confidence in Israel’s ability to cope with international pressures is evident from the fact that even though 70% of Jewish respondents are worried about the country’s international situation, exactly the same number say that even if a Palestinian state is declared and recognized by the UN, Israel is not likely to face a political and economic tsunami from the countries of the world if it does not recognize the Palestinian state. At most, the majority thinks that Israel’s relations will deteriorate here and there. In the Arab public, however, opinions are divided: the prevailing view (48%) is that Israel is likely to face a political and economic tsunami, while 43% do not see such a wave of hostility on the horizon.

This month, we checked the extent to which the Jewish public is currently prepared for an evacuation of the territories. It emerges that the critical question concerns the “terms of the deal.” If one talks about a permanent peace agreement in return for evacuating all of the territories, only 25% of Jewish respondents express support. When one offers those who oppose a deal on such terms the possibility of leaving the large settlement blocs in Israel’s hands, the rate of support rises considerably to half of the Jewish public. If those who also oppose this formula are offered two more “benefits”—Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and a declaration of the end of the conflict—the rate of support for the whole package rises to 62%.
Prime Minister Netanyahu recently stated in an interview with writer Etgar Keret that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not territorial but primarily national-religious and hence apparently irresolvable. In light of this statement, it is worth noting that 20% of the Jewish public see the conflict as mainly a territorial conflict, 13% as a political conflict, and 13% as a religious conflict, while the dominant view (43%) is that the conflict is simultaneously territorial-political-religious. In the Arab public, 35% define the conflict as territorial, 18% as national, 7% as religious, and 32% as all three together.

While slightly over half of Jewish respondents ranked the government's functioning in the area of foreign as poor, the picture in the socio-economic domain is gloomier. Sixty-two percent of the Jewish public considers the government’s functioning in this area as poor. Moreover, a sweeping majority of 80% say that the socioeconomic issue is troubling to them.

In order to identify the source of the public’s unease about the government's socioeconomic policy, we asked the following question: “In recent years the Israeli economy has been characterized by two parallel trends—stability and economic growth, and a parallel widening of the gap between rich and poor. Some claim that the two trends are interrelated: reducing the gap is likely to harm growth and stability, while enhancing growth and stability widens the gap. If this claim is true, what would you choose today – more growth and stability or more efforts to reduce the gap?” The distribution of the answers in the Jewish and Arab publics is unequivocal: in both, the overwhelming majority chooses the option of reducing the gaps (95% of the Jewish public and 89% of the Arab public).

At the same time, when the respondents were asked whether their personal and family economic situation has changed in recent years, 27% of the Jewish public responded that it had improved, 41% said that it had not changed, and 31.5% indicated that it had worsened. The corresponding figures in the Arab public are 19%, 1%, and 75%, respectively; that is, the negative effect of the economic situation on this sector is much more severe than on the Jewish sector.