In the Peace Index survey for November we explored four issues that have recently been on the agenda and are interconnected to one degree or another: the nuclear agreement that the Western powers, headed by the United States, signed with Iran; the political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians; U.S.-Israeli relations in the context of the tensions related to the two preceding issues; and the change in leadership of the Labor Party and the chances of its joining the government in the foreseeable future.
The agreement between the Western countries and Iran. The Jewish public does not put much hope in the agreement that was signed between the Western countries, headed by the United States, and Iran. Indeed there is high unanimity (81%) that the agreement will not lead to the end of Iran’s nuclearization. Likewise, a majority of the Arab public (58%) does not believe the agreement will put a stop to the process of Iran’s military nuclearization. As for the way in which Prime Minister Netanyahu has handled the Iranian nuclear issue so far, the grade he gets from the Jewish public is rather mediocre (an average of 6.6 on a scale of 0 to 10). That population assigns him at least partial responsibility for the situation that ultimately led to the signing of the agreement. In the Arab public, the average grade Netanyahu receives for his performance on the Iranian nuclear issue is 5.6, that is, lower than what the Jewish public gave him.
Effects of the agreement with Iran on the negotiations with the Palestinians. The public disappointment over the agreement between the Western states and Iran also emerges in how it assesses the agreement’s effects on the political negotiations being conducted with the Palestinians. The prevailing view (40%) in the Jewish public is that the agreement will lead the Palestinians to harden their position; only 12% think they will become more conciliatory. The rest do not know or think no change will occur in Israel’s position in the negotiations with the Palestinians due to the signing of the agreement with Iran. As for the U.S. position, the majority thinks the agreement will not make Washington more yielding toward Israel as compensation for the signing of this agreement. The prevailing view (38%) is that the agreement will have no effect on U.S. policy toward Israel in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Indeed, a considerable segment (30%) thinks the U.S. position toward Israel in the context of these negotiations will become more demanding as a result of the agreement, while only 20% expect the Americans to be more yielding toward Israel so as to compensate it. Regarding the Israeli government’s position on the negotiations with the Palestinians following the signing of the agreement with Iran, the most widespread view in the Jewish public (39%) is that the signing will have no effect on it (26% think Israel’s position will get tougher, while 22% see it becoming more conciliatory). In the Arab public, the most common view (40%) is that the Palestinians’ position will grow more conciliatory in the wake of the agreement with Iran (one-quarter think their policy will harden and 22.5% foresee no change). As for a possible change in U.S. policy following the agreement, no clear position emerges. There is indeed an equivalency between those who see it becoming more yielding toward Israel and those who do not believe it will change (about 31% in both cases, with 27% assessing that the United States will now take a stricter position toward Israel). The same holds true for the Arab public’s expectations regarding a possible change in Israel’s policy on the negotiations with the Palestinians following the agreement with Iran: the prevailing view (33%) is that no change will occur, with the rest more or less evenly divided between those who believe Israel will toughen its position and those who think it will soften it.
Relations with the United States. About two-thirds (63%) of the Jewish public disagrees with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s assertion that the United States has been showing a frosty attitude toward Israel because of Israel’s excessive demands on Washington. In other words, this majority does not view Israel as responsible and does not attribute the American coldness to excessive Israeli demands in recent years. This could explain why the Jewish public is currently divided on whether Israel should or should not also seek other allies in the international arena and reduce its dependency on the United States, as suggested by Foreign Minister Lieberman. Forty-nine percent think it is worth looking for other allies; 45% do not think so. And yet a large majority (72%) still affirms that the United States is, in any case, Israel’s most faithful ally, which has been the view since 1967 (the left takes this stance more than the center and the right—respectively, 90%, 84%, 62.5%). A clear-cut majority (70%) of the Jewish public considers that even if Israel seeks other loyal allies in the international arena, the chances that it will find them are moderately low or very low. An even larger majority (79%) believes Israel’s existence currently depends to one extent or another on the military, political, and economic assistance that it receives from the United States. On the question of dependency, we segmented the responses of the Jewish public according to self-placement on a right-left political-security spectrum. We found that, in all the camps, the majority sees the dependency as moderately or very great, though less so on the right where the rate is 78% compared to 84% in the center and 88.5% on the left. As for the Arab public’s positions on U.S.-Israeli relations, here the majority (53%) actually agrees with Lieberman’s claim that it is excessive Israeli demands on the United States that have caused the latter to distance itself. Almost the same rate (52%), however, says Israel should not seek loyal allies other than the United States, and about two-thirds (63%) believe that, even if it seeks them, it will not find any. Again, about two-thirds (64%) still view the United States as Israel’s main loyal ally and 86% (!) see Israel as totally or moderately dependent on U.S. aid.
The Labor Party in the government? The Jewish public shows disagreement regarding the chances that the Labor Party will join the government following the election of Isaac (Buji) Herzog as party leader. Forty percent think it will not join, 33% believe it will, and about one-quarter do not know. However, the responses to the question of whether it is desirable or undesirable for Labor to join the government display a different pattern. Forty-five percent say it should join, while 34% oppose such a move (the rest do not know). A cross-checking between this question and interviewees’ self-placement on the right-left spectrum reveals that on the right and in the center, the prevailing opinion is in favor of Labor joining, while on the left the rate of opponents of its joining (48%) is slightly higher than the rate of those in favor (42%). In the Arab public as well, the highest rate (44%) does not see Labor joining the Netanyahu government in the foreseeable future (30% think it will). Here, 41% believe it is desirable for Labor to join compared to 45.5% who oppose that step.
Negotiation index: General sample—47.8 (Jewish sample: 43.3)
Graphs of the month:
1. In your opinion, does Israel need to find other loyal allies in the and reduce its dependence on the United States in the international arena?
2. What, in your opinion, are the chances that if Israel seeks other allies in the international arena, it will find them?
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 on November 26-28, 2013, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 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.