Netanyahu and Liberman.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
More Israelis favor the outcome of the latest political maneuvering – Yisrael Beytenu in the coalition – than the option of Zionist Union joining, but do not think Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is suited for his new job, according to the Israel Democracy Institute-Tel Aviv University Peace Index released Tuesday.
Of the general public, 33.7 percent of Israelis prefer Yisrael Beytenu, while 28.4% chose Zionist Union and 15.2% said they would choose either. Among Jewish Israelis, the gap widens to 39.2% for Yisrael Beytenu and 27.5% for Zionist Union and 11.6% for either – whereas Israeli Arabs prefer Zionist Union by far, with 32.5% support as opposed to 6.3% for Yisrael Beytenu and 32.9% favoring both to the same extent. Of Likud voters, 71% preferred Yisrael Beytenu, while only nine percent would have preferred Zionist Union.
Just 21.2% of Israelis said Liberman is more suited to be defense minister than his predecessor Moshe Ya’alon, while 51.7% said Ya’alon is better for the job.
The poll indicated that the public did not think much would change with Liberman taking the reins at the defense ministry, with a plurality of 42.2% of Israelis positing that the number of terrorist attacks will not change, while 18.7% said it would increase and 21.4% said it would decrease.
Nearly half (48.2%) of Israelis said Liberman’s appointment will not change relations with the US, while 24.1% said they would deteriorate and 12.8% said they would improve. As for chances of renewing peace talks with the Palestinians, 38.6% said Liberman’s appointment as defense minister won’t make a difference, 35.4% said it will decrease the chances and 16.2% said it will increase the odds.
However, 46.1% did say Israel’s policies on the Palestinians will likely be tougher now that Liberman has joined the government, as opposed to 34.5% who said it would not change and 6.6% who said it would be more conciliatory.
When asked about investigations of the Netanyahu family’s household affairs, nearly half (46.9%) of Israelis said they do not trust the authorities to some degree, while 38.5% do. However, most Israelis believed that the investigation stemmed from behavior in the Netanyahu household (56.5%) and not from a plot to oust the prime minister (30.8%).
Another question on the poll was whether or not Israelis think the country’s presence in the West Bank should be called an “occupation.” Of Jewish Israelis, 71.7% said they think not or are sure it’s not, while among Israeli Arabs, 73.7% said they think or are sure it is.
The poll was conducted among 600 people, constituting a representative sample of the adult population in Israel on May 31 and June 1, and has a margin of error of 4.1%.
Also Tuesday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein along with IDI Vice Presidents Mordechai Kremnitzer and Yedidia Stern, presented the IDI’s Outstanding Parliamentarian Award to MKs Moshe Gafni (UTJ) and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union).
The award committee selected Gafni, who has been an MK for 27 years, for his work as chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, saying he “worked tirelessly” and “stood up for the weakest segments of society, such as the disabled and parents of children with terminal illnesses.”
Upon receiving the award, Gafni stressed that he works for the entire public, not just haredim.
“When things are good for everyone, it’s good for haredim, and when it’s bad for everyone, it’s seven times worse for haredim… We reached the conclusion that we should help the entire public,” he said.
Nahmias-Verbin, a freshman lawmaker, was chosen for “her spirited and industrious actions” and for “work[ing]decisively to advance important goals, including increasing women’s rights and equality and improving Israeli industry.”
The Zionist Union MK said that a legislator’s “everyday work does not receive headlines, fireworks, likes or retweets.
Many things are important to me, and they’re not always so interesting, but if it’s important, I won’t give up, because no issue is too small. The public cannot think we are disconnected from them, that this aquarium prevents us from seeing their problems.”
MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List), who attended the ceremony, vocally questioned, however, why an Arab lawmaker had never won.