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The Peace Index:
Date Published: 07/05/2014
Survey dates: 28/04/2014 - 29/04/2014

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*The data on the Arab sample will be published later

This month’s survey is divided into two parts. The first deals with the Israeli public’s sentiments and views as the country’s 66th Independence Day approaches; the second presents their sentiments and views about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

As Independence Day nears:

The functioning of the state: On the eve of Independence Day, the survey’s results show that a majority of Israel’s Jewish citizens (76%) are very satisfied or moderately satisfied overall with the country’s achievements to date. Satisfaction among the youngest age group is lower (64%) than among the older groups (74%-83%).When it comes to the state’s functioning in major areas taken separately—the military-security, socioeconomic, and political-diplomatic areas—the differences in degree of satisfaction are larger. At one pole is the military-security area, regarding which 82% expressed satisfaction. A segmentation by political camps reveals that the center is the most satisfied (87%, vs. 83% on the right and 76% on the left). At the opposite pole is the socioeconomic area, with only 31% satisfied. The political-diplomatic area is in the middle, though here too the unsatisfied (54%) outnumber the satisfied (41%). In this area we found very large gaps based on interviewees’ self-placement on the right-left political spectrum. Among those locating themselves on the right, 49% are satisfied; in the center, 39.5%; and only 19% on the left.

The desired national order of priorities: The Jewish public’s dissatisfaction with the state’s functioning in the socioeconomic area also emerges clearly in its order of priorities for the goals the government should pursue. Among the five issues presented to the interviewees, highest on the scale of priorities is reducing the socioeconomic gaps (47%); after it comes creating housing solutions at affordable prices (21%). In other words, the public prefers the two issues of a socioeconomic nature (69% combined) over the other three issues, all of which belong to the security-political area: increasing Israel’s military power (10%), improving its diplomatic status in the international arena, and achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinians (9% in both cases). Indeed, compared to an identical question presented in the Peace Index survey for April 2012, the priority assigned to the socioeconomic area has risen by 12%!

Citizens’ attitudes toward the state: Two-thirds of the Jewish public believe that people used to care more about the country. A different pattern emerged when it came to personal caring. Here, the rate of those saying they now care more about the country exceeds the rate of those who say they cared more in the past (respectively, 38% and 27%).A comparison with the responses to the two questions five years ago shows that, on this issue of caring about the country, the idealization of the past has slightly diminished: whereas in 2009 71% thought people used to care more, today 66% think so. A more complex picture emerges for personal caring. Here there was an increase both among those saying they used to care more (from 17% to 27%) and among those who said they care more today (from 20% to 38%). At the same time, there was a significant decline in the rate of those saying there is no difference between how much people cared in the past and in the present (from 61% in 2009 to 34% today). This disparity in responses regarding the society as a whole, on the one hand, and regarding the respondents themselves on the other is a classic example of a recognized phenomenon in the social sciences where an assessment about the collective is more negative because, for example, of an impression received from the media about “public opinion.” The idealization of the past is particularly pronounced among the younger age groups, 66% and 79% of whom respectively think people used to care more about the country, compared to the older age groups where only 60.5% and 50% think so respectively.

The country’s future and the personal future: Some 73% of the Jewish public are very optimistic or moderately optimistic about the country’s future in the coming years. The degree of optimism about respondents’ personal future is even higher at 85%. Optimism about Israel’s future is lowest in the youngest age group, where only 58% are optimistic compared to 71%-80% among the older age groups. A segmentation by self-affiliation with a political camp revealed a gap between the left, which is the least optimistic (only 58% expressed optimism about the country’s future), compared to the center and the right, which are considerably more optimistic (77% in both cases). As for personal optimism, we found no systematic disparities by age. The religious are slightly more optimistic than the secular, and right-wingers slightly more than those who located themselves in the center and on the left. In all groups, however, a large majority express optimism about their personal future.

In Israel to stay! The optimism in those two dimensions is consistent with the intentions of the overwhelming majority (80%) to live in Israel, even if they were given an opportunity to move to a different country. Here we found substantial gaps between the different age groups, though in each of them the majority declares an intention to stay. Among the two youngest age groups this majority stands at 69% and 71% respectively, compared to 89% and 95% respectively among the two oldest groups. A segmentation by religiosity also revealed significant differences: for example, among national-religious Israelis 92.5% said they aimed to remain in Israel compared to 73% of secular Israelis. A segmentation by political camps yielded a much smaller gap: 83% of those on the right said they were planning to remain in Israel compared to 79% of those placing themselves in the center or on the left.

As for the developments on the Palestinian issue:

The risk posed by the Fatah-Hamas agreement: A considerable majority of the Jewish public (57.5%) sees the reconciliation agreement that was signed between Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas as very dangerous or moderately dangerous for Israel. Likewise, 57.5% reject the claim that the reconciliation makes Abbas’s representation of the Palestinians more inclusive and, therefore, if an agreement with Israel is signed it will be more valid.

The halt in the negotiations with the Palestinians: Given these views, it comes as no surprise that a large majority (68%) of the Jewish public backs the government’s decision to stop the negotiations with the Palestinians in response to the reconciliation agreement. An analysis of the answers by interviewees’ self-placement on the political spectrum turned up large gaps: 82% of those situating themselves on the right supported the stopping of the talks compared to 59% in the center and only 26% on the left. At the same time, the public is divided on whether the freeze in the negotiations is beneficial or harmful to Israel in the short term and the long term, with slightly more seeing it as more harmful both in the short (41%-36%) and long (40%-34%) terms.

Who is responsible? President Obama has assigned equal responsibility to the leaders of the two sides, saying that neither showed the political will to make difficult decisions needed to keep the negotiations alive. Not surprisingly, a majority of the Jewish public (56%) thinks Obama is mistaken in attributing equal blame to Israel and the Palestinians. A segmentation of the answers to this question by political camps yielded huge disparities: whereas 27.5% of those placing themselves on the right agree with Obama, among those locating themselves in the center 54% agree with him, and 70.5% of those who put themselves on the left.

Negotiations index: 45.6 (Jewish sample 41.2)

Graph of the month: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the country’s future in the coming years? (percentages of very optimistic and moderately optimistic, Jews, by age)
תרשים החודש: האם אתה אופטימי או פסימי ביחס לעתיד המדינה בשנים הבאות? (% מאוד אופטימיים ודי אופטימיים, יהודים, לפי גיל)

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. This month's survey was conducted by telephone on April 28-29, 2014, and included 600 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of the adult population aged 18 and over. 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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