Majority of Israelis are against cease-fire with Hamas

"Peace Index" shows majority of Jewish public prefers limited op, a quarter wants to reoccupy Gaza.

Kassam removed 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Kassam removed 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Although Jewish Israelis are divided on how to react to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, most prefer military means over a cease-fire based on dialogue with Hamas, according to Tel Aviv University's February 2008 Peace Index poll. An police officer removes a rocket from a sidewalk in Sderot. Seventy-one percent said Israel should not accept Hamas's offer to stop the fire in return for Israel ceasing its operations in Gaza and the West Bank and its pursuit of Hamas leaders. Although the public did not overwhelmingly favor any one approach, the clear winner was a military operation. Whereas only 4% supported the present policy of restraint and 17% favored negotiating a cease-fire with Hamas, 26% called for reoccupying Gaza and staying there for an unlimited time, while one-third wanted a limited military operation in Gaza after which the IDF would withdraw. Asked whether they favored establishing a national unity government or relying on the current government, 51% responded that a national unity government was preferable while 30% were prepared to stick with the current one. The rate of support for a national unity government is among the lowest in years. A persistent question has been whether Israel's response to the rocket attacks is related to the fact that those on the receiving end are peripheral communities. It turns out that 56% indeed think the government fails to assign high priority to tending to these communities' security problems because of their remoteness from the Central region, and would not practice restraint to the same extent if the center of the country was under attack. Only 37% disagreed. However, the public also showed self-criticism on this issue: 51% agreed that Israelis as a whole were less interested in the southern residents' security problems because of their remoteness, while 42% dissented. At the same time, only 38% thought that the residents of "the state of Tel Aviv" - a term some in the media use to describe those in the center of the country - do not identify with the southern residents' suffering, and 64% rejected the claim that people in central Israel were less patriotic than those in other areas. Finally, it appears that the ongoing rocket fire has not affected the "national fortitude." A majority of 55% said the attacks had not affected their desire to remain in Israel, one-quarter said they only strengthened that desire, while for 18% the attacks had increased their desire to live elsewhere. The Peace Index Project was conducted at the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution of Tel Aviv University, headed by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann. The telephone interviews were conducted by the B.I. Cohen Institute of TAU on March 3-4 with 590 people who represent the adult Jewish and Arab population of Israel (including the Jewish population in the West Bank). The sampling error was 4.5%.