The Israeli Voice Index for May 2020 found that 50% of the public supports applying Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) with the U.S. administration’s support (25%) and without American backing (25%)
* As in all the measurements since April 2019, in this month, too, the rate of optimists about the future of Israel’s national security (a majority of 62%) clearly exceeds the rate of optimists about the future of Israel’s democratic governance (a minority of 43.5%).
* About half of the entire Israeli population prefers the present government in the form it assumed two weeks ago while only about a third would prefer a fourth round of elections in the summer. This is a decrease compared to last month, when the majority supported the government that was being formed.
* The main issue the government must address, in the opinion of the citizens, is the economy and employment. The second issue in importance – and far behind – is that of the coronavirus and health.
* More Israelis are doubtful that Netanyahu will give up his prime ministerial post to Gantz as the agreement stipulates, or are sure he will not do so, than think he will uphold what the agreement says (48% vs. 41.5%).
* More than half of the public considers that Netanyahu will be able to function properly as prime minister even as his trial progresses.
* At the same time, more than half disagree with the claim that the legal proceeding against Netanyahu is a cover for an attempt to depose him outside the purview of elections.
* A huge majority (70%) of the Israeli public believes Israel can prevail over Iran in the cyberwar being waged between them. Likewise, more than half see low chances that the struggle in the cyber arena will develop into an all-out war between the two countries.
* About half of the Israeli public currently favors applying Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria/the West Bank with or without U.S. support. Less than a third oppose it, while an especially high rate (20%) takes no clear position on the issue.
* A majority (58%) thinks that a move of applying sovereignty will cause the Palestinians to launch a third intifada.
* Twenty years after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon, almost half of the Israeli public (48%) thinks it was the correct decision compared to 31.5% who think it was not.
* The Israeli public is divided on the question of whether the hasty withdrawal encouraged terror attacks: 42% agree with that claim while 35% disagree.
The National Mood
This month as well, as in all the previous measurements, the rate who are optimistic about Israel’s national security considerably exceeds the rate who feel that way about the future of Israel’s democratic governance. The rate of the optimists about the future of Israel’s democratic governance is exactly the same as the multi-month average since we began this measurement – 43.5% That is, over time, and this month as well, there is a minority of optimists compared to the rate of pessimists and “Don’t knows.” However, this month the rate of those optimistic about the future of national security is higher than the multi-month rate (65% vs. 54.6%), though all the measurements show a majority.
Optimistic about the future of Israeli democracy and about the future of national security, April 2019-May 2020 (%, entire public)
The New Government
A government or fourth elections? Despite the criticisms that have been leveled at the new government from almost all directions – regarding its size, its lack of clear policy directions, the appointments that have been made, and so on – more Israelis prefer it in its existing format than a fourth round of elections in the summer (49% vs. 32%). Note that last month, before the exact composition of the government was known, 57% of the interviewees favored this option.
The gap on this issue between Jews and Arabs is great: a majority (55%) of the Jews prefer the government in the shape it has taken, while a majority (55%) of the Arabs would have preferred a fourth round of elections in the summer. A segmentation by voting reveals a majority only of Gesher-Labor-Meretz (55%) and Joint list (63%) voters who would have preferred elections in the summer.
A segmentation by political camps (Jews) shows that in all of the camps, the rate of those who prefer the government as it has emerged exceeds the rate of those who would have wanted elections in the summer, though the majority is quite large only among those who defined themselves as right-wing: left – 41.5% (vs. 38.5% who preferred elections), center – 45% (vs. 28%), right – 63% (vs. 24%).
Prefer a government like the one formed two weeks ago to a fourth round of elections in the summer (%, Jews and Arabs, April and May 2020)
The main issue that the new government needs to address: We asked an open question, that is, without giving possible answers to choose: What is the main issue that the new government needs to focus on? In the Jewish public, the issue of the economy and employment clearly emerged as the main one (37%), while far behind it were the issues of: welfare (13%), health and the coronavirus, and security (the latter two – 12% each). In the Arab public, the issue of equality and social unity (21%) came in first, and not far behind it were the economy and employment (19%) and health and the coronavirus (18%). On this issue we did not find differences between the three political camps (Jews). Nor were differences found between those with higher-than-average and lower-than-average incomes.
Will Netanyahu give up his place as the agreement states? We asked: “In your assessment, will Prime Minister Netanyahu comply with the rotation between him and Benny Gantz in another 18 months as stipulated in the agreement between Likud and Blue and White?” The public is divided on the issue, with a slight lead for those who think he will not comply with the agreement in this regard (41.5% – he will, 48% – he will not). But when the responses are segmented by voting in the last elections, a much clearer picture emerges: in the center-left parties, the majority thinks Netanyahu will not honor the agreement, while in the right-wing parties only a minority, though not inconsiderable, holds that view. Yisrael Beiteinu voters, who are right-wing though their party has remained in the opposition, are split more or less down the middle. Note that among Blue and White voters in the most recent elections, 66% say Netanyahu will not give up his place. We do not have a way, however, of isolating the Blue and White voters who were in favor of joining the government.
Will Prime Minister Netanyahu not give up his place to Benny Gantz after 18 months? (%, entire public)
Netanyahu and the Trial
Will Netanyahu be able to carry out his duties properly during the trial? More than half of the entire public (52%) thinks he will be able to, compared to 40% who answered the question negatively. Here too the key to an in-depth understanding of the public’s positions lies in segmenting the voting in the latest elections: among the voters for the left and center parties (except the Joint List), the majority believes he will not be able to fulfill his role properly, while the voters for the right-wing parties think he will be able to. Again – a large majority of the entire Blue and White party says Netanyahu will be unable to fulfill his role properly, but we cannot extract from this rate those who supported Gantz and Ashkenazi’s move of joining the party.
Netanyahu will not be able to keep functioning properly as prime minister amid the legal proceeding against him (%, entire public)
The Netanyahu trial – an attempt to get around the election results and use a legal proceeding to depose him? More than half of the public (51%) “doesn’t buy” the claim that the legal proceeding against Netanyahu is actually aimed at deposing him, after his opponents proved unable to do so in the acceptable way of achieving a change of government – that is, elections. And again, a segmentation by voting clarifies the picture: in the center and left parties, the majority thinks the proceeding is not intended to depose him, while in the right-wing parties, the majority thinks the opposite.
The Netanyahu trial – an attempt to get around the election results and use a legal proceeding to depose him? (%, disagree, entire public)
The Struggle between Iran and Israel
The last few weeks have seen media reports about an intensifying struggle in cyberspace between Israel and Iran. We wanted to know what Israelis think about the balance of power between these two countries in that domain. We asked: “According to media reports, Iran and Israel have lately been waging a cyberwar. Which side, in your opinion, has a better chance to prevail over the other side?” The responses tell us that a large majority of the Israeli public attributes greater capability to Israel than to Iran. This assessment is common, incidentally, to the three political camps (Jews). On the right, 84% think Israel has the upper hand, in the center – 74%, and on the left – 67%. It is worth noting that among the Arab interviewees, the highest rate (44%) chose the “Don’t know” option.
Which side, Israel or Iran, has a better chance to prevail over the other in the cyber-struggle between them? (%, entire public)
The chances of going from a cyber-struggle to an all-out Israeli-Iranian war? Although about 20% of the public do not know how likely it is that the cyber-struggle between Israel and Iran will, in the next year or two, turn into an all-out war, the majority (51%) sees the chances of this as moderately or very low. Here too we did not find substantial differences between the three political camps (Jews). In other words, at present the Iranian threat appears distant to the Israeli public and not overly concerning.
Applying Israeli Sovereignty in the Territories
Like last month, though this time from a different perspective, we find that in the Jewish public the highest rate supports applying Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria/the West Bank with or without the United States’ agreement. In the Arab public, the majority (57%) opposes applying sovereignty (20% don’t know).
Should Israel go ahead with applying sovereignty even if the United States does not support the move? (%, entire public)
A segmentation by parties shows that those who most support applying Israeli sovereignty in the territories are voters for the Haredi parties and Yamina. Among Blue and White voters, the majority opposes applying sovereignty whether with or without U.S. agreement and only about a third favor it. An interesting finding is that the highest rates of Likud voters are prepared to apply sovereignty even without U.S. consent.
Should Israel go ahead with applying sovereignty even if the United States does not support the move? (%, entire public)
Will a third intifada erupt after sovereignty is applied? In contrast to the Iranian issue, it turns out that the Israeli public perceives the Palestinian issue as combustible. The majority, 58%, thinks that if sovereignty is applied, the chances are high that the Palestinians will launch a third intifada. Similar rates see it that way among Jews and Arabs. However, the gaps on this issue between the political camps (Jews) are large: on the left and in the center, the majority expects a Palestinian reaction in the form of a third intifada, and on the right a half believes that will happen.
In your opinion, what are the chances that the Palestinians will react to the application of Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria/the West Bank with a large-scale third intifada? (%, Jews)
It is not surprising to find a relationship between assessment of the chances of the outbreak of an intifada and support or opposition to applying sovereignty. In the Jewish public, among those who anticipate such a Palestinian reaction, more than a third oppose the move, compared to only 8% who oppose it among those who view the chances of a third intifada as low.
Support or opposition to applying sovereignty, distributed according to the chances of a third intifada
20 Years since the Withdrawal from the Security Zone in Southern Lebanon
Was the decision correct or incorrect? Twenty years after IDF forces withdrew from Lebanon, about half of the Israeli public (48%) thinks Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s decision to evacuate southern Lebanon unilaterally and without an agreement with the Lebanese or Syrian government was the correct decision. About a third (31.5%) considers that it was incorrect decision.
Positions on the IDF withdrawal in the Jewish public are strongly related to the following characteristics: (1) political camp – a large majority on the left and a small majority in the center think it was the correct decision, compared to a minority on the right; (2) age – the age groups that agree in the highest proportions that the unilateral withdrawal was the right choice comprise those in the 35-54 range, at least some of whom served there and experienced the difficult aspects of the IDF presence in southern Lebanon.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s decision to unilaterally evacuate the security zone was the right one (%, Jews)
Did the hasty withdrawal from Lebanon encourage terror attacks on Israelis? Forty-two percent of the interviewees think the hasty withdrawal from Lebanon strengthened the Palestinians’ perception that Israel only understands force, thereby encouraging terror attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians (Jews: 46%, Arabs: 24%), compared to 35% who disagree with that claim. A high rate chose the “Don’t know” option (23%). A division by political camps reveals that on the right, a majority agrees that with this claim (58%), compared to a large majority on the left that disagrees with it (70.5%).
The hasty withdrawal from Lebanon strengthened the Palestinians’ perception that Israel only understands force, thereby encouraging terror attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians (%, agree, Jews)
Support or opposition in hindsight to the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon was found to be related to the position on whether this withdrawal encouraged terror attacks on Israelis. In the Jewish public, a large majority (78%) of those who think the decision to withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon was wrong said that it encouraged terror attacks on Israelis. Conversely, only 31% of those who see the decision to withdraw unilaterally from southern Lebanon as a right one believe it encouraged terror attacks on Israelis.
Position on the claim that the hasty withdrawal from Lebanon encouraged terror attacks, in relation to position on whether the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon was correct or incorrect (%, Jews)
The Israeli Voice Index for May 2020 was prepared by 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 May 27 to 31, 2020, 622 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 149 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