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AUGUST




The Peace Index:
August
 
2013
Date Published: 03/09/2013
Survey dates: 27/08/2013 - 28/08/2013

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The implications of an attack on Syria – The Jewish public in Israel is divided on the question of whether Syria will carry out its threat to attack Israel if the United States and its allies attack Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces. A slightly higher rate (46%) takes the Syrian threat seriously, while a slightly lower rate (41.5%) thinks Syria will not carry out its threat to attack Israel. A more clear-cut division was found on the question of how an attack on Syria, if it is indeed carried out, will affect the status of the United States as a key player in the Middle East: a majority of the Jewish public (54%) thinks the status of the United States will be increased, while 14% expect it to be decreased. About one-fifth (21%) thinks the status of the US will not change, while the rest do not know. In the Arab sector, the distribution of views on whether Syria will fulfill its threat is also not clear-cut, but the trend is in the opposite direction: the higher rate (47%) thinks Syria will not attack Israel and the lower rate (40%) thinks it will. As for the impact of an attack on the status of the United States in the Middle East, the Arab public is divided, with a bit of an advantage for those who think the move would decrease the status of the US in the region (33.5% believe the status would be decreased, 26% believe it would be increased, 20% think there would be no effect, and the rest do not know).

The situation in Egypt – According to media reports, Israel tried to persuade the United States and Europe to continue their foreign aid to Egypt. A large majority of the Jewish public (66%) thinks or is sure that this attempt at persuasion was wise. This position is consistent with the majority (56%) that affirms that the ousting of President Morsi by the Egyptian army was in Israel's interest. In the same vein, while the most common response among Jewish respondents to the question of how Morsi’s ouster will affect Israeli-Egyptian relations was that relations will not be affected (34.5%), the rate of those who think his ouster will improve relations (30%) is almost three times higher than the rate of those who believe it will damage relations (12%). In the Arab public, the responses to the question about the wisdom of the Israeli pressure to continue foreign aid are different from those of the Jewish public. In this case, the minority (36.5%) thinks Israel acted wisely if it appealed to Western states not to halt the aid to Egypt, while a higher rate (42%) believes that such an appeal, if it was indeed made, was unwise. At the same time, as in the Jewish sample, the highest rate among Arabs (44%) asserts that Morsi’s overthrow was in Israel’s interest while the minority (33%) thinks the opposite. As for the future of Israeli-Egyptian relations, the prevailing opinion in the Arab public is that relations will indeed improve as a result of the regime change in Egypt (35.5%), while the second largest group (28%) thinks that they will not change. Only 14.5% in this population expect relations to worsen.

Israel and the EU decision – The Jewish public was not indifferent to the European Union’s decision to prohibit all 28 EU countries from cooperating with or providing economic assistance to Israeli entities that are active in the territories: 67% of the Jewish public sees the decision as endangering Israel economically. As for the effect of this decision on Israel’s international status, opinions in the Jewish public are divided: about half (49%) thinks the decision entails significant danger to Israel’s international status while a similar rate (47%) does not think the decision poses such danger. A similar proportion of the Arab public also views the EU decision as endangering Israel economically (64%). As for the danger to Israel's international status, opinions on this are divided among the Arab population as well (44% see a danger, while 48% do not).

The negotiations with the Palestinians – A complex picture emerges regarding the Jewish public’s view of the chances of reaching a peace agreement based on the two-state formula. A small majority (54%) disagrees with Minister Naftali Bennett's statement that the idea of a Palestinian state within the Land of Israel is dead; however, a large minority (41%) agrees with this statement. In addition, the Jewish public is almost evenly split on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent assertion that a peace agreement is vital to prevent a situation in which Israel will eventually become a bi-national state that lacks a Jewish majority. Forty-eight percent think this is an accurate statement while 45% do not. These data strengthen our previous finding that there is currently no sweeping support for the two-state solution and indicate that the Israeli public is not losing sleep over the basic premise of the negotiations that without two states a bi-national reality will emerge.

The Jewish public's skepticism and ambiguity in the Jewish public’s positions on a solution to the conflict also emerge in perceptions of the trustworthiness of the two main players in this issue: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President Barack Obama. Only a small minority (20%) believes Abbas’s statement that the signing of a peace agreement would mark the end of the historic conflict between the two people for the Palestinians; an overwhelming majority of 77.5% does not believe this statement. And yet, 71% of the Jewish public affirms that in the context of returning to the negotiating table, President Obama is committed to safeguarding Israel’s security.

In the Arab public, the majority (58%) disagrees with Minister Bennett’s claim that the two-state solution is dead, and the largest share of respondents, actually almost a majority (50%), disagrees with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement that a peace agreement is vital to prevent a future situation in which Israel becomes a bi-national state. Regarding Abbas’s assertion that the signing of an agreement would mean the end of the conflict from the Palestinians’ perspective, the Arab public is divided: the highest rate (48%) does not believe Abbas, while 44% does. This may indicate that Israeli Arabs themselves do not see a peace agreement as the end of the conflict from the Palestinian perspective. The rate of Arab respondents who see President Obama as committed to Israel’s security (82%) is decidedly larger than in the Jewish public (71%). This may indicate that they do not see him as an “honest broker.”

Expectations for the New Year – In general, the data indicate that the prevailing view in the Jewish public is that what was is what will be in all the areas that we asked about. (military-security—46%, political-diplomatic—50%, reducing socioeconomic gaps—40%, economic stability—39%, personal security—50%, leaders’ degree of attentiveness to the public—56%). At the same time, within the assessments that the situation will change, in two areas—military-security and political-diplomatic—the rate of those who expect the situation to improve is higher than those who believe it will get worse (28% vs. 16% and 24% vs. 17%, respectively). A reverse picture, and with larger disparities, emerges in the area of socioeconomic gaps (14.5%—improve, 38%— worsen) and for economic stability (19.5%—improve, 32%—worsen). In the two remaining areas—personal security and leaders’ attentiveness to the public—there are no significant differences between the rates of optimism and pessimism; in other words, the public assumes that what was is what will be.

The picture for the Arab public is a bit different and more pessimistic. In the military-security realm, opinions are almost evenly divided between those who think the situation will remain the same (29%), those who think it will improve (30%), and those who think it will worsen (27%). In the political-diplomatic area, the most common view is that Israel’s situation will worsen (35%, while 29% think it will remain the same, and 21% think it will improve). On the issue of reducing socioeconomic gaps, there is almost equivalence between those who expect the situation to remain the same (35.6%) and those who expect it to worsen (36.2%), with only a small minority expecting an improvement (18%). On the issue of economic stability, the prevailing view is that the situation will worsen (43%, compared to 23% who expect it to remain the same and 23% who expect it to improve). On the issue of personal security, the highest rate thinks the situation will worsen (39%, while 34% expect it to remain the same, and 16% expect it to improve). And on the issue of leaders’ attentiveness to the public, here too the prevailing feeling is that the prospects are gloomy (28.5% expect it to worsen, 26% to stay the same, and 16% to improve).

The Negotiations Index for August, 2013
The Peace Index project includes ongoing monitoring of the Israeli public's attitudes towards peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The monthly Negotiation Index is comprised of two questions, one focusing on public support for peace negotiations and the other on the degree to which the public believes that such talks will actually lead to peace. The aggregated replies to these two questions are calculated, combined, and standardized on a scale of 0–100, in which 0 represents total lack of support for negotiations and lack of belief in their potential to bear fruit, and 100 represents total support for the process and belief in its potential. Each month, the Negotiations Index presents two distinct findings, one for the general Israeli population and the other for Jewish Israelis.

Negotiation Index: General sample 48.9; Jewish sample 45.6.

Graph of the month: Do you agree or disagree with Minister Naftali Bennett’s assertion that the idea of a two-state solution is dead? (%)
Graph of the month: Do you agree or disagree with Minister Naftali Bennett’s assertion that the idea of a two-state solution is dead? (%)

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. This month’s survey was conducted by telephone by the Midgam Research Institute on August 27–28 among 601 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 measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.5% at a confidence level of 95%. Statistical processing was done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay.



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