'War and Peace Index' shows public mistrusts government

New TA University survey focuses public's perception of the government's current negotiations with Syria and the question of negotiating for Israel's captive soldiers in Lebanon.

The outcome of a recent Tel Aviv University "War and Peace Index" survey conducted by Tel Aviv University has emphasized the public's distrust in the present government and the need to clean up corrupt political leaders. The survey, which was conducted this month by TAU Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Open University Prof. Tamar Hermann, focused on the public's perception of the status of the government and its head, the government's current negotiations with Syria and the question of negotiating for Israel's captive soldiers in Lebanon. Responses throughout the study indicated a widespread opinion that the government needs a major makeover. Sixty-one percent of the public thinks that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should immediately resign the premiership before the State Prosecutor's Office makes any final decision regarding an indictment in the Talansky Affair. If given a choice, 40% would prefer that elections be held immediately to determine the rest of his term. More than one-fifth - 21% - believed Olmert should be replaced immediately without elections. Twenty percent agreed with Olmert's position that he should stay in office until a final decision is made on the indictment. Whether or not Olmert steps down before the indictment is decided, 60% of the respondents believed the investigation should take place and be completed. Only 5% believed that Olmert was the right person to hold talks with Syria, while 72% believed it should be up to the public to decide on final negotiations. Even with ongoing reports about renewed Israeli-Syrian negotiations with Turkish mediation, the public's position on the conditions for peace with Syria has not changed since the Oslo Accords in 1993. Two-thirds - 67% - oppose signing a peace treaty that includes a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Meretz was the only party in which a majority of members were prepared to withdraw from the Golan in return for peace; this was the only response that was broken down by the respondents' political affiliation. Sixty-five percent of respondents believed the Golan was an essential military-security base; 20% believed the Golan was of "national significance" for Israel. An additional 7% believed the area was highly valuable for economic and tourism reasons. The last issue that the survey touched upon was the question of whether Israel should agree to release Lebanese prisoners in order to get back captive IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Forty-six percent opposed making a deal with Hizbullah, while 38% supported returning Hizbullah prisoners for Goldwasser and Regev. The War and Peace Index is funded by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and Tel Aviv University's Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution.