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Israeli Public Opinion on Eve of US President Obama Visit

March 18, 2013 | IDI Press Release | For Immediate Release

ISRAELI JEWS BELIEVE OBAMA IS NEUTRAL, BALANCED

Jewish Israelis Anticipate Softening of Positions, No Breakthrough

Monday, March 18, 2013, Israel Democracy Institute, 4 Pinsker Street, Jerusalem – With US President Obama's upcoming visit this week and coalition negotiations recently concluded, the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and Tel Aviv University released the results of our latest monthly Peace Index poll related to these two issues.

Israelis were surveyed on their views towards President Obama and his role in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

  • Attitude towards Israel: A slim majority (51%) of Israeli Jews believe President Obama is business-like or neutral in his attitude toward Israel; 36% believe he is friendly and 11% believe he is hostile.  The majority of voters of two left-wing parties – Meretz (59%) and Labor (54%) – see him as friendly.
  • Pro-Palestinian vs. Pro-Israel: 53% of Israeli Jews believe Obama is balanced in his approach, 23% believe he is more pro-Palestinian, and 18% believe he is more pro-Israel.
  • Considering Israel's interests: 54% of Jewish Israelis do not trust Obama to consider and safeguard Israel's interests, while 45% do.  Varying majorities within left-wing and center parties believe that he can be counted on: Meretz (86%), Labor (79%), Hatnua (72%), Kadima (57%), and Yesh Atid (53%).
  • Israeli-Palestinian negotiation positions: 51% of Jewish Israelis believe that Obama would not have come to Israel unless it was agreed beforehand that the visit would yield a softening of positions on both sides; 35% do not agree with this assessment.
  • Israeli flexibility: Jewish Israelis are closely divided on whether Israel should be more flexible to help Obama get negotiations with the Palestinians back on track, with 49.5% believing Israel should be and 48% believing Israel should not be.  Support for flexibility varies greatly by party affiliation: Meretz (91%), Kadima and Labor (84%), Hatnua (79%), Yesh Atid (74%), Likud – Yisrael Beytenu (36%), Shas (28%), Bayit Yehudi (18%), and United Torah Judaism (14%).
  • Obama's influence: 62% of Jewish Israelis do not believe that President Obama has the ability to bring about a real breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, while 37% believe he does.  The most optimistic voters are from Labor (74%), Hatnua (67%), Kadima (67%), and Meretz (50%); Bayit Yehudi (22%) and Shas (12%) voters are most skeptical about the possibility of a breakthrough under his leadership.  The youngest voters are most skeptical about chances for a breakthrough: 18-29 year olds (29%), 30-44 (38%), 45-54 (38%), 55-64 (41%), and 65+ (44%).

The poll also asked Israelis about their views on the recently concluded coalition negotiations and results.

  • Grading the party leaders' coalition negotiations: Yair Lapid's handling of the coalition negotiations was given good marks by the largest margin of Israeli Jews (62%) followed by Naftali Bennett (60%) and Benjamin Netanyahu (48%).
  • Suitability for ministerial positions: A majority of Jewish Israelis (56%) believe that Yair Lapid is not suited to be finance minister, while 33% he is.  Among Yesh Atid voters, 50% believe he is not suited while 42% think he is.  Jewish Israelis are closely divided on Tzipi Livni's suitability to coordinate negotiations with the Palestinians, with 46% seeing her as suitable and 50% seeing her as not.  Nearly all Hatnua voters (95%) see her as suitable for this role.
  • Coalition composition: More than two-thirds (69%) of Jewish Israelis supported a coalition with Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi, while the ultra-Orthodox parties remain outside; a minority (28%) opposed this.
  • "New politics": A large majority of the Jewish public (73%) sees the election results as reflecting a strong desire for "new politics" or a "new breed" of politician, while a minority (24%) disagreed.  Hatnua (100%) and Yesh Atid (96%) voters most agreed with this sentiment.

This survey, conducted on March 11-14, 2012, included 600 respondents who constitute a representative sample of the adult population of Israel. The measurement error for a sample of this size is 4.5%.

The full results of the Peace Index are available on IDI's Peace Index website.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Peace Index Co-Director Prof. Tamar Hermann, contact:
Yehoshua Oz
IDI Director of International Communications
press@idi.org.il
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