Poll says Israelis think Obama favors Palestinians

One-fifth of Israelis have or plan to participate in Schalit protests.

Tel Aviv protest 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Tel Aviv protest 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Most Israelis – 57.5 percent – think that US President Barack Obama favors the Palestinians, and a fifth of Jewish Israelis have participated or plan to participate in protests to free captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, according to the July Peace Index released Wednesday by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University.
This month’s index also revealed that a slim majority, 52%, of the Israeli public favors renewed construction in the West Bank after the settlement freeze ends in September, claiming that “continuing the freeze means capitulation to the Americans and the Palestinians.”
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Conversely, 41.5% say the freeze should continue, in order to “help advance the negotiations with the Palestinians and improve Israel’s image in the international community.”
Meretz (88.2%), Labor (62.5%) and Kadima (60.2%) voters favor continuing the freeze, while Shas (81.2%), Yisrael Beiteinu (73.8%) and United Torah Judaism (67.8%) want to end it.
While 71.5% of Israeli Jews support holding talks with the Palestinians, but only 32.3% believe they will lead to peace.
High support for talks along with pessimism about their outcome has characterized public opinion since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, note researchers Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann.
Most Israelis – 62% – support direct dialogue, with only 14% supporting the proximity talks mediated by US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell.
Over 42% view Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies towards the Palestinians as balanced, with most of the rest divided between seeing them as too yielding (29%) or too tough (17%).
While the involvement in “free Schalit” activism may be a world record for “public participation in civil protest,” note the researchers, the public is split almost evenly about whether the Schalit family should “intensify its protest measures,” with 48.5% in favor of intensification, and 43% against it.
The Peace Index project, which issues reports almost every month, is conducted under the auspices of the Evens Program for Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. This most recent survey of some 600 Israelis, representing a cross-section of the population, was carried out by telephone on July 6-7 by the Dahaf Institute. The margin of error is 4.5%.