Study: Israelis feel their global status depends on peace with Palestinians

Ramat Gan think tank: Only 13% describe country’s international standing as ‘good’.

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September 17, 2014 07:19
3 minute read.
Rabin, Clinton, and Arafat

From left; Former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, former US president Bill Clinton, and the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israelis believe their global standing is dependent on peace with the Palestinians and that the US is the country’s most important ally, according to a new study to be released Wednesday morning by the Ramat Gan think tank Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.

Only 13 percent of the 500 people polled on September 9-11 believed that Israel’s global standing was good, while 35% thought it was poor. According to 45%, Operation Protective Edge in Gaza damaged Israel’s foreign relations.

Sixty-one percent of the respondents felt that progress in the peace process would improve Israel’s foreign relations. Fifty percent said they did not want Israel to negotiate with the new Palestinian consensus government backed by both Fatah and Hamas, while 45% said they did.

Sixty-nine percent thought regional cooperation was possible; among Likud voters the figure was 67%.

The poll was conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute among men and women age 18 or older from both the Jewish and Arab sectors. It has a 4.5% margin of error.

The findings come amid a frozen peace process with the Palestinians and at a time when Israeli relations with the United States appear to be strained.

Nimrod Goren, who chairs Mitvim, said “the poll shows that the peace process is a central issue for the Israeli public – a condition for improving Israel’s foreign relations and a key foreign policy priority.”

According to the survey, the top foreign policy priorities for the Israeli public are ties with the US, public diplomacy, the peace process and developing ties with moderate Middle Eastern countries. Respondents paid less attention to Iran and ties with East Asia.

When asked to choose the three most important countries for Israel, 95% mentioned the US, 33% cited Russia, 32% mentioned Germany, 27% cited Egypt and an identical percentage mentioned the United Kingdom. Only 2%-4% mentioned the Palestinian Authority, Jordan or Turkey as being among the three most important countries for Israel.

According to the poll, only 20% of the respondents supported the way the government had handled foreign policy. Only 16% supported Avigdor Liberman as foreign minister; 27% preferred Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in this role, 19% favored Labor Party head Isaac Herzog, 13% preferred Finance Minister Yair Lapid and 12% chose Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett.

Goren said the findings of the poll showed there was fertile ground for regional peace. Mitvim, he added, was working on a proposal to advance such a plan to achieve this.

Separately, a Palestinian opinion poll published on Tuesday showed that half of the Palestinian public supports an armed intifada against Israel.

The poll, whose results were made known by the Nablus-based An-Najah University, was conducted September 11-13 among 1,360 Palestinians (860 from the West Bank and 500 from the Gaza Strip) above the age of 18. It has a margin of error of 3%.

Forty-nine percent of the respondents favored an armed intifada against Israel, while 44% said they were against it. Fifty-six percent said they supported unarmed, nonviolent resistance, while 35% expressed opposition to this.

The poll found that 57% of the respondents expected the eruption of a third intifada in the West Bank.

Only 32% said they did not.

More than 70% said they believed there would be another military encounter with Israel in the Gaza Strip, and 84% said they supported Palestinian Authority efforts to join the International Criminal Court.

The poll also confirmed the results of a previous survey that indicated increased support for Hamas following Operation Protective Edge.

Twenty-two percent of the respondents said that if presidential elections were held today they would vote for a Hamas candidate, as opposed to 21% who would cast their ballots for a Fatah nominee. More than 17% of respondents said they would not participate in the elections. The poll also found that Hamas would receive more votes than Fatah in a parliamentary election – 23% to 21%.

Asked about the role of the US in the Middle East peace process, an overwhelming majority of 90% of the respondents said they viewed the US as being biased in favor of Israel. Fifty- four percent said they supported the two-state solution.


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