Sobering Attitudes correlated to sobering times

Aug 03, 2008 Published under Israel, Mideast Negotiations, Palestine

Just like on the Palestinian side the call for "resistance" has been strengthening, Israeli views towards negotiations with Palestinians are hardening, according to the latest War and Peace Index conducted by Professor Tamar Hermann.  We’ve got our work cut out for us.

War and Peace Index
July 2008
Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann
Even before Ehud Olmert announced that he would not take part in the primaries the
Kadima Party is supposed to hold in September, and would resign from his post as
prime minister immediately after a new party leader is elected, an overwhelming
majority of the Jewish public—69%—thought that even if it turns out that legally
Olmert is not culpable and no indictment is to be served against him, his behavior is
inappropriate in terms of public morality and hence he should resign. However, the
data show that the public’s political discomfort is not limited to Olmert’s leadership
and behavior but relates to those of the government as a whole: a majority—53%—
would want the current government to resign as soon as possible and new elections to
be held; less than half that total—25.5%—would want the current government to
continue to serve but headed by someone other than Olmert; and only 12.5% would
want the current government to keep serving under its current leader.
Amid the recent attacks by Arab residents of East Jerusalem and announcements by
security agencies of a rise in hostile activity in the eastern part of the city, we checked
the Israeli Jewish public’s positions on East Jerusalem and the possibility of dividing
the city. The findings indicate the prevailing view that for all intents and purposes,
Jerusalem is already divided in two—56% agree with that assertion while 41%
disagree. (Incidentally, there is a close link between support or opposition to
negotiations with the Palestinians and views of whether or not the city is actually
divided: two-thirds of supporters of negotiations think Jerusalem is already basically
divided compared to only one-third of opponents of negotiations). Furthermore, the
rate of those who report visiting East Jerusalem is low: 39% reported that they had not
visited it even once over the past five years and another 39% had visited it only one to
five times in that time span. In other words, about 80% of the Jewish public has
almost kept clear of East Jerusalem in recent years (as expected, the rate of haredi and
religious who have visited East Jerusalem is much higher than the rate of seculars, the former two groups apparently going there for purpose of prayer and the like).
Nevertheless, a considerable majority (61.5%) opposes transferring the eastern part of
the city to the Palestinians even if reaching a peace agreement with them were to
depend only on that (34% are prepared to hand over East Jerusalem to the Palestinians
if that is the last obstacle to reaching an agreement).
As for the motives of the attackers from East Jerusalem, only a small minority
(16.5%) of the Jewish public ascribes the hostility to discrimination against East
Jerusalem and its residents regarding infrastructure and services such as health,
sanitation, education, and so on compared to West Jerusalem, while the majority
(56%) ascribes the East Jerusalem residents’ growing involvement in attacks to the
fact that, as holders of blue identity cards, it is simply easier for them than for
residents of the territories to carry out such attacks. Indeed, an overwhelming majority
of the Jewish public (74%) assert that the East Jerusalem Arabs do not feel themselves
to be Israelis and the exact same number do not, themselves, view them as Israelis,
notwithstanding their blue identity cards.
In light of the reports in the Israeli and international media on repeated intentional
attacks by settlers on Palestinians and their property, we checked the degree of
credibility the Jewish public attributes to these reports. The findings show that the rate
of those who think the media reports on this matter are credible (48.5%) is higher than
the rate of those who doubt their believability (34%). A majority of the Jewish public
(55%) also says Israel should protect the Palestinians from settler attacks. Only a
minority (31%), however, agreed with the claim that the IDF and Border Police do not
try hard enough to prevent such incidents and to apprehend settlers who attack
Palestinians, whereas the majority (57%) rejected that claim.
As for the public’s positions on the future of the settlements, the number of opponents
of Israel signing a peace treaty requiring the evacuation of most of the settlements
(51%) is higher than the number of supporters of Israel signing a treaty if that is its
“price tag” (40%). At the same time, it seems the Jewish public distinguishes between settlements and illegal outposts: regarding the latter there is a small majority of
supporters of evacuating them even now, without an agreement—47% in favor and
42% against.
Finally, we looked into whether the status of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate
Barack Obama improved among the Israeli Jewish public following his much-covered
visit to Israel last week. The survey findings show that the visit didn’t help and that
the number of those saying the Republican candidate—John McCain—is better for
Israel (42%) is much higher than those—18%—who currently view Obama as better
for the country (the rest have no opinion).
The War and Peace Index is funded by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Studies
and the Evans Program for Conflict Resolution Research of Tel Aviv University. The
telephone interviews were conducted by the B. I. Cohen Institute of Tel Aviv University
on 27-29 July and included 597 interviewees who represent the adult Jewish and Arab
population of Israel (including the territories and the kibbutzim). The sampling error for
a sample of this size is 4.5%.
For the survey data see:

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