'Most Israelis unsatisfied with election results'

War and Peace Index: Barak most popular choice for defense minister; equal backing for Livni, Bibi as PM.

voting 2009 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
voting 2009 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Most Israelis are dissatisfied with the results of the recent election, according to a study released on Tuesday. Only 17 percent of respondents said they were satisfied, while 43% were dissatisfied. Thirty-five percent were somewhere in between, and the remaining 5% were unsure. Nonetheless, the study found that an overwhelming majority, some 90%, would still vote for the same party. Some 600 telephone interviews for The War and Peace Index, commissioned by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution of Tel Aviv University, were conducted on February 17-18. Mirroring the general election results, which gave Kadima 28 Knesset seats and the Likud 27, 37.5% of respondents said they would like to see Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni as prime minister, while 37.6% said they favored Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu. The War and Peace Index report noted when the 4.5% margin of error was calculated into these figures, there was no difference in support for the two political rivals. In terms of coalition building, some 36% of Israelis were shown to prefer a national-unity government consisting of Likud, Kadima and Labor, while 22% would opt for a more right-leaning coalition of Likud, Israel Beiteinu, Shas, the National Union, Habayit Hayehudi and United Torah Judaism. A further 16% said they backed a coalition of Likud, Kadima and Israel Beiteinu. Israelis who voted for religious parties favored the second, more right-wing coalition option, while left-wing voters overwhelmingly preferred a Likud, Kadima, Labor partnership. The survey also reported that some 43% of Israelis defines themselves as right wing, 26% as in the center, 20% as left wing, with the rest undecided. Defense Minister and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak was found to have the most support to continue in his current security role, while 14% said they preferred the Likud's Moshe Ya'alon, a former chief of General Staff. A further 13% of respondents backed Kadima's No. 2, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz - a former defense minister and chief of General Staff - to take on the Defense portfolio, and 10% said they would like to see Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman in the role. The War and Peace Index also asked respondents for their opinion on Operation Cast Lead, which ended more than a month ago. Some 33% were disappointed with the offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, 36% were satisfied, and 29% either neutral or unsure. The dissatisfaction, according to the study, stemmed from the conclusion that Israel had surrendered to international pressure to stop fighting, rather than continuing until it toppled the Hamas regime. The question of whether Israel should negotiate with Hamas was found to be a close call, with 55% against any such talks, and 45% supporting them. Some 93% of Meretz voters backed negotiations with the Islamist group, along with 56% of Labor voters and 53% of Kadima voters. Regarding kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, held in Gaza since June 2006, The War and Peace Index found that 77% of Israelis support linking his release to a cease-fire agreement with Hamas. The same proportion said they backed a prisoner swap, including the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners with "blood on their hands." The War and Peace Index was compiled by Profs. Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann.