‘Most Israelis dissatisfied with government’s foreign policies’

A mere 11% of Israelis are satisfied with the government’s performance in foreign relations, while 60% are not satisfied.

October 29, 2015 19:38
3 minute read.
Tzipi Hotovely

Tzipi Hotovely. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Only 7 percent of Israelis think Israel’s international standing is good, according to a poll regional foreign policy think tank Mitvim released on Thursday.

A mere 11% of Israelis are satisfied with the government’s performance in foreign relations, while 60% are not satisfied, as opposed to 34% in 2014. Two-thirds said that Israel should focus more on its internal issues than on foreign policy, while 19% say the opposite.

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More than half (58%) said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed in his efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear project.

The vast majority Israelis polled are also critical of the prime minister for giving many of the Foreign Ministry’s responsibilities to other ministers while keeping the portfolio for himself, with 78% saying that doing so endangers national security; 59% are unsatisfied with the Foreign Ministry.

The poll included an open question of which MKs stand out in the area of foreign policy.

Netanyahu comes in first at 21%, followed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, tied at 17%. Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid comes in at 12%; Zionist Union MK and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) are tied at 5%, and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and Interior Minister and former foreign minister Silvan Shalom are tied at 4%.

Israelis said that the government’s foreign policy should focus on taking care of security threats (45%); relations with the US (31%); the peace process (31%); public diplomacy and fighting boycotts (26%); and relations with moderate Arab states (20%), the poll found.

As for relations with the US, 41% think they are not good, an increase of 24 percentage points over last year. After the US, the countries that the respondents think are important to Israel are Russia (41%), Germany (31%), Egypt (21%), China (20%) and the UK (19%).

Only 2% chose the Palestinian Authority in this category.

Although Turkey came in 12th place in the list of countries important to Israel, 44% of those polled say Israel should improve its relations with Ankara because of security cooperation on the issues of Syria and ISIS.

Most Israelis (59%) think it is possible to cooperate with other countries in the Middle East, and more than a third (38%) of the public thinks that the Arab League’s involvement will help move the peace process forward, as opposed to 21% who disagree. Normalization with Arab countries was the most popular incentive to continue the peace process, with 27% choosing it, as opposed to 15% who choose American security guarantees and 11% who choose improved relations with the EU.

One-fifth choose all of the above.

More Arabs (32%) than Jews (26%) think that Israel is more of a Middle Eastern country than a European one, while more Jews (32%) than Arabs (27%) think the reverse. Similar proportions of Jews (26%) and Arabs (24%) think Israel is equally Middle Eastern and European.

The respondents are split on how Israel should respond to EU proposals to label settlement products: 31% think that the government should build less in settlements and 28% think it should build more.

The Smith Research poll of 600 people, a representative sample of Israel’s adult population, Jewish and Arab, was conducted on October 14, 15 and 18 and has a ±4% margin of error.

Mitvim chairman Dr. Nimrod Goren said that “the findings show that the public is losing faith in the government’s foreign policy.

“We see this in the failure attributed to Netanyahu in his efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear project, in the feeling that Israel’s standing in the world and relations with the US are in a sharp decline, and in the concern about the ramifications of harming the Foreign Ministry.

These are dangerous trends,” he said.

Goren called for Israel to adopt a new foreign policy, including cooperating with other countries in the region and the international community by working on peace with the Palestinians.

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