January's Israeli Voice Index found that 32% of Israelis believe Netanyahu's investigations will be the issue with the greatest impact on voters in the upcoming Knesset elections, followed by other considerations such as the cost of living and housing, security, religion and state and Jewish-Arab relations.
* This month saw an increase in the rate of those optimistic about both the future of Israeli democracy and the future of national security, with one difference: whereas in the democracy domain the optimists are still a minority, in the security sphere they formed a majority this month, perhaps because the issue of peace with the Palestinians returned to the public discourse.
* A similar rate (slightly less than half) of Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens support in principle the idea of a Palestinian state as an element in any peace plan. While this datum accords with previous findings about the support in the Jewish public, it is much lower than previous findings regarding the Arab Israeli public, apparently because of the mention of President Trump in the wording of the question.
* Only among the secular group (Jews) is there a majority of supporters of a Palestinian state as an element in any peace plan.
* A majority of the Arabs and almost half of the Jews regard the timing of the publication of the “deal of the century” as U.S. external interference in the Israeli election process. In the Jewish public there is a large gap here between, on the one hand, the left and the center, where a large majority sees it as external interference, and, on the other, the right, where only about a third view it that way.
* In the Israeli public as a whole, the highest percentage of people views Netanyahu as the most fitting candidate to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians if they were to be launched. However, a separate segmentation of Jews and Arabs shows that this preference exists only among the Jews and primarily among those defining themselves as right-wing, while among the Arabs, as among the Jewish left and center, there is a preference for Gantz.
* Among both the Jews and the Arabs, there was an increase in the rate of those reporting that at present they are following the election campaign less than they followed the previous one. This phenomenon is more pronounced on the right (Jews) than on the left.
* Most of the interviewees are satisfied with the list of candidates for the Knesset of the party for which they intend to vote. However, this majority is highest among the potential voters for the Joint List (82%) and lowest among voters for Labor-Gesher-Meretz (57%).
* A majority of voters for the large parties think that, so as to reach a decisive outcome in the upcoming elections, one should avoid voting for small parties. Only a minority of voters for the small parties agree with that recommendation.
* Most of the Israelis thought, while the survey was being conducted, that the issue that will most affect the voting will be the Netanyahu investigations.
* The rate of those who do not believe in the propriety of the Israeli elections, that is, that the official reporting of the results matches the actual voting, stands this month at 39%. On average, this rate since March 2019 has come to about one-third (35%).
* There is great support in the Israeli public for having Election Day count as a vacation day for those who prove that they have fulfilled their civic duty and voted. However, there is considerable opposition to levying a fine on those who choose not to vote.
The National “Mood”
The future of democracy – Compared to last month, this month saw a very slight increase in the public’s optimism about the future of Israeli democracy. At the same time, the rate of optimists this month (41.5%) is still lower than the average rate for the months since we began to look into the issue in April 2019 (44.7%).
The future of national security – In this domain the month saw a considerable rise in the rate of optimists, and at present there is a majority (58%) that looks to the future with hope in this regard. Possibly this high increase in the rate, compared to the previous month, stems from the fact that the survey was conducted amid the anticipation of the “deal of the century” along with the return of the peace issue to the national agenda.
Optimism about the future of Israeli democracy and about the future of national security, April 2019-January 2020 (%, entire public)
What Do the Israelis Think about President Trump’s “Deal of the Century”?
Because the survey was conducted quite close to the date of the publication of the peace plan but before its details were known, the questions we asked were more general, though they remain valid after the disclosure of the details.
A Palestinian state - yes or no? We asked: “The peace plan that President Trump will soon present will apparently include recognition of a Palestinian state. In your opinion, should Israel agree to any plan that includes such recognition?” The rates who approve of such recognition among the Jews and the Arabs were very similar (45.5% and 44%). The finding about the Jewish sample conforms to previous studies about support for the two-state idea. However, the rate of supporters among the Arabs is much lower than in previous surveys. The reason is apparently the mention of President Trump in the body of the question, given the widespread perception that the U.S. president is not a fair arbitrator on the issue of the conflict but instead is biased toward the Israeli side, and against the backdrop of the rift between him and the Palestinian leadership along with the Palestinian Authority’s opposition to any peace settlement under his aegis. If so, then the Arab respondents probably expected in advance that the plan would not be of benefit to the Palestinians; hence the rate of supporters of a Palestinian state as outlined in the “deal of the century” is especially low.
In a segmentation by voting in the most recent elections, the greatest support for the Trump plan, which includes recognition of a Palestinian state, turns out to be among the parties of the left and the center, while most of the voters for the right-wing parties and the Haredi parties oppose the plan.
Israel should agree to Trump’s peace plan, which includes recognition of a Palestinian state (%, by voting in the September 2019 elections)
A segmentation of the responses to the question by religiosity (Jews) revealed that only among the secular group is there a majority of supporters for the principle of a Palestinian state.
Israel can agree to a peace plan that includes recognition of a Palestinian state (%)
|Haredim||Religious||Traditional religious||Traditional nonreligious||Secular|
Does the publication of the “deal of the century” constitute American interference in the Israeli elections? In recent years much has been said about external interference in the election campaigns of various countries. We wanted to know whether the publication of President Trump’s peace plan is or is not perceived as such interference in the Israeli elections.
Among the Arabs a clear majority (68%) sees the publication of the “deal of the century” as interference in the Israeli electoral process, while among the Jews slightly less than half (46%) view it that way. A segmentation of the Jewish sample by self-placement on the right-center-left spectrum reveals a majority who perceive external interference on the left and in the center (78% and 69%), compared to a minority holding that view among those defining themselves as right-wing (33.5%).
Presenting the peace plan at this time constitutes U.S. interference in the Israeli election campaign, with the aim of helping Netanyahu win (%, agree, Jews, Arabs, and Jews divided by political camp)
Who would better manage negotiations with the Palestinians? If negotiations with the Palestinians were to begin, who, in the Israeli public’s opinion, would manage them better – Netanyahu? Gantz? Equally well? In the public as a whole, those who think Netanyahu would be a better negotiator are far in the lead (44.5%). In comparison, 21% see Gantz as preferable while 20% view the two as equally qualified in this regard.
On this issue there is a large gap between Jews and Arabs. Among the Jews, a majority sees Netanyahu as more suitable (52%), while among the Arabs only 10% take that view. Especially high among the Arabs is the rate of “Don’t knows” (23%), perhaps implying that they see neither of the two candidates as optimal for conducting the negotiations.
A segmentation of the Jewish sample reveals that among those defining themselves as right-wing, a decisive majority thinks Netanyahu would be a better negotiator (73%), while among the left and the center the preference is indeed for Gantz but is short of a majority (Gantz would manage them better: left 43%, center 40%).
Who would manage the diplomatic negotiations better, Netanyahu or Gantz? (%, Jews, Arabs, and Jews by political camp)
The April 2020 Elections
Attending to the election campaign – A month and one week before the elections to the Knesset, for the third time in less than a year we wanted to know how much the Israeli public is following the current election campaign compared to the previous one in September 2019. About half of the Jews (49%) and a considerable rate of the Arabs (41%) said they were following the current campaign less than the previous one. Only 11% of the Jews and 13.5% of the Arabs said they were following the current campaign to a greater extent.
We also found that, while in the right-wing camp (Jews) the majority said they were following the current election campaign less (52%) than the previous one, a majority of the left-wing camp (53%) said they were following it to the same extent.
Attending to the election campaign, August 2019 and January 2020 (%, Jews and Arabs)
Satisfaction with the list of candidates – Overall, a majority of the Israeli public (65%) is satisfied with the list of candidates for the Knesset of the party they intend to vote for. A similar picture emerged before the April 2019 elections (63% were then satisfied with the list).
We found considerable differences on this issue, however, between Jews and Arabs. In the April 2019 elections, when two parties vied for the votes of the Arab public, only a minority (43%) of the Arab public was satisfied with the list of candidates for the Knesset, compared to a clear majority (67%) who are satisfied at present. Among the Jews the satisfaction has not changed significantly, and in both cases there was a majority: 67% were satisfied in February 2019 and 64.5% are satisfied today.
A segmentation by voting intentions in the approaching elections reveals that voters for the unified bloc of left-wing parties (Labor-Gesher-Meretz) are least satisfied with their party’s list of candidates for the Knesset (only 57% are satisfied with the list); regarding the unified bloc of right-wing parties (Yamina-New Right-Bayit Yehudi-Tekuma) satisfaction is much higher (76%). The satisfaction of the potential voters for the Joint List is the highest (82%).
Satisfied with the list of candidates for the Knesset of the party one intends to vote for, divided by voting intentions (%)
What will have the greatest impact on the voting? In February 2019, about a month and a half before the voting for the Knesset, the interviewees in the survey we conducted chose the issue that would most affect the voting, in their opinion, as the security situation (30%). After it, in descending order, as the main issue: the cost of living and housing (22%) and the Netanyahu investigations (19%). When we asked the question this month, the Netanyahu investigations were in first place (Jews – 34%, Arabs – 21%). The cost of living and housing remained in second place (21%) while the security situation fell from first place to third (18%).
As shown in the diagram below, among those who voted in the last elections for parties of the center and the left, about half think the Netanyahu investigations will have the greatest impact on the voting for the Knesset; among those who voted for the haredi parties, only a minority thinks so.
The Netanyahu investigations as the main issue that will affect Israelis’ voting in the upcoming Knesset elections (%)
The propriety of the elections – Since the April 2019 elections, we have been gauging to what extent Israelis think the election results as publicized match the actual voting or are manipulated in one way or another in the official reporting. During the past year, we found a considerable rate of people who do not believe in the propriety of the Israeli elections, that is, who do not believe that the results as published are the real ones. This month the rate of those taking that view stands at 39% (in September 2019 – 32%, in August – 43%, in April – 32%, in March – 27.5%). In other words, on average, about a third of the citizens of Israel do not believe in the propriety of the elections!
No trust in the propriety of the elections (%, Jews and Arabs)
Election Day – a vacation day for all? A clear-cut majority of the Israeli public (69%) thinks the day of the elections should count as a vacation day only for those who can prove that they have fulfilled their civic duty and voted. Support for this notion runs very high among the Jews (75%), while over half the Arab interviewees oppose it (51%).
“Do you agree or disagree with the claim that Election Day should count as a vacation day only for those who have proved that they voted?” (%, Jews and Arabs)
A fine for those who don’t vote – There are, of course, countries in which citizens who do not vote incur a fine. We wanted to know whether the Israeli public supports or opposes that idea. The survey results show that the Israeli public opposes fines for those who do not vote in the elections (55%); in this case, too, the Arabs’ opposition (61%) is greater than that of the Jews (53%).
This time around, should people vote for the large parties? In the wake of the two election campaigns for the Knesset during the past year, we asked whether, to bring about a decisive result, people should vote for one of the large parties and not for a small one, even if its positions better accord with those of the voter. Most of the Israeli public agrees (57%), while about a third (34.5%) disagree. Not surprisingly, most of the support comes from those who intend to vote for Blue and White (78%) or Likud (74%) in the upcoming elections, and most of the opposition comes from voters for the small parties – Torah Judaism (31%), Labor-Gesher-Meretz (32%), and Yamina (36%).
To bring about a decisive result in the imminent elections, people should vote for the large parties (%)
The Israeli Voice Index is a project of the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. In the survey, which was conducted on the internet and by telephone (supplements of groups that are not sufficiently represented on the network) from January 26 to January 28, 2020, 638 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 124 in Arabic, constituting a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and older. The maximum sampling error for the entire sample was 3.7%± at a confidence level of 95%. The fieldwork was done by the Midgam Institute. For the full data file see: Data Israel