Comprehensive Peace Agreement & Unilateral Withdrawl
The Israeli Voice Index finds that 58% of Israelis think that signing a peace agreement will positively contribute to Israel’s international status, while 56% think that if Israel would withdraw unilaterally from the West Bank it would NOT improve Israel’s international status
Apart from another look at the national “mood,” the Israeli Voice Index for May focused on two issues: Israel’s foreign relations and international status, and the controversy over the immunity law and a clause enabling the Knesset to override the Supreme Court.
In May a certain decline in the national “mood” was measured manifested in a certain weakening of optimism compared to April regarding both the future of democratic rule and the security situation.
In general, a majority of the Israeli public sees Israel’s international status as good (62%). The majority also believes that signing an agreement with the Palestinians would improve that status (52%).
The countries that are perceived as the friendliest to Israel are the United States (97%), India (64%), and Germany (57.5%).
A clear majority of the Israeli public opposes the immunity law (62%). If it is legislated, only 30% believe it should be applied to Netanyahu.
The public is divided on whether the legal system is too powerful and, hence, the Knesset should be strengthened and the judicial branch weakened (44% agree that this is the case and a change should be made while 36% disagree).
The National “Mood”
This month a slight decline in the national “mood” was measured regarding two issues: the future of democratic rule in Israel and the future of Israel’s security. Compared to April, for the entire sample in May, optimism about the future of democratic rule in Israel declined from 54% to 49.5%, and about the security situation from 59% to 51%.
Among Jews, optimism about democratic rule fell from 59% to 54%; among Arabs, from 36% to 25%. As for the future of national security, the decline in optimism among Jews was from 60% in April to 53% this month and among Arabs from 52% in April to 41% this month. A segmentation of the question on optimism about future democratic rule in Israel by political camp revealed that on the right, 72.5% are optimistic, compared to 29% in the center and 18% on the left. A segmentation by political camp of the question on optimism about the future of Israel’s security showed that on the right, a majority (64%) is optimistic, while in the center and on the left, only a minority feels that way (center - 38%, left - 32%).
How do you feel about the state of democratic governance/ security situation in Israel in the foreseeable future? (%)
Israel’s Foreign Relations
Israel’s International Status at Present and Compared to the Past
About two-thirds of the Jewish public thinks Israel’s international status at present is very good or moderately good; among Arabs, half think so. However, a segmentation by political camp of the Jewish sample turns up large disparities: on the left only 34% view Israel’s status in the international arena as very good or moderately good, compared to a majority in the center (57%) and on the right (74%).
Israel’s International Status at Present (very good or moderately good, %)
Is Israel’s international status at present good or poor compared to what it was a decade ago, or is it similar? In the Jewish public, the majority (60%) sees its status today as better than it was ten years ago; only 20% think it has worsened. While the rate of Arabs who did not know how to answer this question is too high to draw a clear conclusion, among those who did answer the rate who see an improvement slightly exceeds the rate who perceive a worsening of Israel’s international status compared to the past (35% vs. 30%). Eighteen percent believe that no change has occurred. A segmentation of the Jewish sample shows that on the right, a large majority (71%) believes that Israel’s international status is better at present than in the past, in the center a small majority (54%) thinks so, while on the left only a minority holds that view (24%).
Is Israel’s international status today: better, similar, or poorer than it was ten years ago? (Jews, by political camp, %)
The Countries of the World - Friendly or Hostile to Israel?
As expected, the United States emerges from the data as the friendliest country to Israel (97% of the Jews and 84% of the Arabs see it that way). In second place for the rate of those who view it as friendly to Israel is India (64% of the Jews and 58% of the Arabs). In third place is Germany (57.5% of the Jews and 58% of the Arabs). From this point on, none of the countries we asked about attained a majority. Britain and China are identical in terms of the Jewish public’s assessment of their degree of friendliness to Israel (40%). The percentage of people who see Britain as hostile to Israel, however, clearly exceeds the percentage who regards China as hostile to it – 19% vs. 8%. Among Arabs, 67% think Britain is friendly to Israel compared to only 35% who say that China is. Russia is perceived as friendly to Israel by 34.5% of the Jewish interviewees and by 42.5% of the Arab interviewees. Egypt is the last in line with only 18% of Jews and 45% of Arabs viewing it as friendly. It should be noted that except for China, all the countries we asked about appear to Arab interviewees to be friendlier to Israel than they appear to Jewish interviewees.
“Is each of the following countries, in your opinion, friendly or hostile to Israel?” (Jews, %)
BDS - a Success or a Failure?
It turns out that a majority of the Jewish public as a whole believes that the BDS movement is not succeeding to damage Israel’s international status. At the same time, we found certain disparities on this issue in the Jewish sample. On the left, 43% believe that BDS is succeeding to a very great or a moderately great extent to damage Israel’s international status, with lower rates on the right and in the center (37% and 38% respectively).
“To what extent is the BDS movement (which calls for a boycott of Israel and Israeli products because of the continued occupation) succeeding to damage Israel’s international status?” (%)
The Expected Impact of a Peace Agreement with the Palestinians on Israel’s International Status
A small majority of Jews and a large majority of Arabs think that if a peace agreement were to be signed between Israel and the Palestinians, there would be an improvement in Israel’s international status (Jews - 56%, Arabs - 69%). However, there is disagreement on this issue between the political camps of the Jewish public: a huge majority of the left thinks the signing of such an agreement would improve Israel’s international status (92%), a considerable majority of the center thinks so as well (68%), but only a minority of the right believes it would (45%).
“If a comprehensive peace agreement were to be signed between Israel and the Palestinians, would there be a substantial improvement in Israel’s international status?” (Agree, %)
The Expected Impact of a Unilateral Withdrawal from the Territories on Israel’s International Status
A small majority of the Arab public, compared to a clear minority of the Jewish public, thinks that if Israel were to leave the territories unilaterally there would be a substantial improvement in its international status. A segmentation of the Jewish sample by political camp reveals considerable gaps: while, on the Jewish left, a solid majority (62%) considers that such a move would improve Israel’s international status, among the center and the right only a minority foresees that outcome (center-38%, right - 15%).
Would there be a substantial improvement in Israel’s international status if it were to leave unilaterally - that is, without an agreement with the Palestinians - the West Bank/Judea and Samaria? (Agree, %)
The Question of Immunity and the Supreme Court Override Clause
The efforts of some members of the future coalition to prevent any possibility of putting an elected individual (and Netanyahu specifically) on trial by legislating a revised immunity law, and by weakening the judicial branch with the passing of an override clause - this time not only regarding the judicial branch’s overturning of Knesset legislation but also of administrative decisions of the legislative and executive branches - were the focus of Israel’s public discourse this month. We used a series of questions to gauge the public’s positions on these issues. However, as we will detail below, we wanted to know whether there is public agreement that the Israeli government is now in the same category as such illiberal governments as those of Turkey, Hungary, and Poland, many having made the comparison lately.
Comparing the Israeli Government and the Governments of Turkey, Hungary, or Poland
We asked: “Some claim that in light of the political processes occurring in Israel in recent years, the regime here can now be compared with illiberal regimes in Turkey, Hungary, or Poland. Do you agree with or oppose this claim?” In the entire Jewish sample, only about one-fourth (24%) see validity in this comparison. However, among the Arabs 59% agree that it is valid.
A segmentation of the Jewish sample by political camp shows that on the right and in the center, only a minority perceives any validity in the comparison between Israel and Turkey, Hungary, and Poland (right - 13%, center - 34%). On the left, however, the majority views this comparison as valid (64%).
The Immunity Law
A majority of the public opposes the immunity law, according to which automatic immunity will be granted to a member of Knesset regarding whom the attorney-general wants to submit an indictment. The opposition to the law, it should be noted, is large even among the Jewish interviewees who defined themselves as “right” (48%), though it is lower than among the Jewish interviewees who defined themselves as center (85%) or left (89%) or among the Arab interviewees (60%).
Support and Opposition to a Law That Would Grant Automatic Immunity to a Member of Knesset against Whom the Attorney-General Wants to Submit an Indictment, according to Voting for the Knesset in 2019 (%)
The Law’s Application to Netanyahu
We asked: “And if the revised law is passed, should it, in your opinion, be applied only to new cases or also to Prime Minister Netanyahu, even though a draft of an indictment, pending a hearing, has already been served against him?” On this question the rate of “Don’t know” was exceptionally high among both the Jews (22%) and the Arabs (28%). Nevertheless, among those who did have an opinion, 47% in both samples said the law should be applied only to new cases, that is, not to Netanyahu. A segmentation of the Jewish sample by political camps showed that, on the left and in the center, a clear majority (81% and 62% respectively) thinks the law, if revised, should be applied only to new cases. On the right, about a third (36%) think so. Even among the Likud voters in the latest elections, less than half think this law should be applied to Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Strengthening the Legislative Branch and Weakening the Judicial Branch
We asked the interviewees to give their opinion on the claim that the legislative branch (the Knesset) is too weak and the judicial branch (the courts) too strong, and therefore there is a need for legislation to strengthen the Knesset at the expense of the courts. In the Jewish sample the rate who agree that this is the situation, and hence there is a need for measures to weaken the courts and strengthen the Knesset (44%), exceeded the rate who oppose such measures (36%). However, we found large gaps between the political camps on this issue. On the left, an overwhelming majority opposes weakening the judicial branch and strengthening the Knesset (82%); in the center, too, opponents are a majority though a considerably smaller one than on the left (56%). On the right, however, a clear majority is in favor of strengthening the Knesset and weakening the legal system (61%). In the Arab sample, the majority (54%) opposes weakening the judicial branch and strengthening the Knesset.
Strengthening the Knesset and Weakening the Legal System (Jews and Arabs, %)
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 represented proportionally on the network) on May 20-22, 586 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 105 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 Rafi Smith Institute. For the full data file see: https://dataisrael.idi.org.il/