After more than 100 days in office – Israelis want the new government to prioritize stabilizing the economy and combatting COVID by imposing restrictions on the unvaccinated
* Identical rates, each slightly less than half of the public, are optimistic about the future of national security and the future of the democratic regime in Israel. On the democratic future the measurement is high, while on national security it is a low one. As in the past, the Jews are more optimistic than the Arabs.
* The majority of the public thinks that a year after they were signed, the Abraham Accords have fulfilled the expectations of them.
* A very large majority of the public sees low chances that in the next five years an accord will be signed with the Palestinians.
* Among the Jews, the rate of those who agree more with those who favored a military attack on Iran to prevent it from going nuclear exceeds the rate of those who agree more with those who favored reaching an agreement. Among the Arabs, the distribution of preferences is the opposite: more support the idea of reaching an agreement.
* A majority of the public considers that even if Iran reaches a nuclear capability, because of Israeli deterrence it will not attack Israel with those weapons.
* Only a minority of the Israeli public views Bennett’s speech at the United Nations as good or excellent.
* The highest rate of the public as a whole, though not a majority, regards the restrictions the government has imposed to prevent COVID-19 infection as appropriate to the situation.
* The rate of those who favor denying entry to public places to unvaccinated people who are not willing to be tested exceeds the rate of those who oppose it. The same holds true for charging a fee for their medical treatment and denying them unemployment benefits. At the same time, only a minority favors granting priority for connection to an ECMO machine to those who have been vaccinated. The approval of sanctions among the Jews exceeds what we found among the Arabs.
* Only a minority of the public thinks Prime Minister Bennett is waging the struggle against COVID-19 appropriately. As on the question of his UN speech, the position on this question is closely related to the interviewees’ political stance.
* Among the Jews, the prevailing perception is that the most important issue for the government in the coming year is stabilizing the economy. Among the Arabs, the top issue for the government to address is the crime in Arab society.
The National Mood
In this month’s measurement the rates of optimists about the future of Israel’s national security and about the future of its democratic governance are identical, coming to slightly less than half. Regarding the democratic future this is one of the highest totals since we began these measurements, while regarding national security it is one of the lowest. In terms of the similarity between the two measurements, we have in fact returned to May-June 2019. One can generalize, then, that about half of the Israeli public as a whole is optimistic in both of these areas.
Optimistic about the future of Israeli democracy and about the future of national security, April 2019-September 2021 (%, entire sample)
As in the previous months, the Jews are more optimistic than the Arabs in both regards, the gap being largest on the future of national security.
|Optimistic about the future of national security||51||35|
|Optimistic about the future of democratic governance||50||40|
A segmentation of the Jewish sample by political camps reveals that on the future of democratic governance, a considerable majority in the center and on the left is optimistic (59.5% and 57% respectively) while on the right a large minority holds that attitude (45%). On the future of security the left is the most optimistic; after it comes the right and finally the left, though disparities are small (55%, 51%, and 50% respectively).
The Abraham Accords
After a full year since the signing of the Abraham Accords, we wanted to know whether in the opinion of the public they have fulfilled the expectations of them. Indeed, a high rate of the respondents in the sample as a whole (20%) chose the answer “Don’t know,” but a clear majority (61%) answered positively.
Exactly a year ago former Prime Minister Netanyahu signed the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In your opinion, so far have the accords fulfilled the expectations of them? (%, entire sample)
The difference on this issue between Jews and Arabs is large: whereas, among the Jews, about two-thirds say the accords have met the expectations and only a minority disagrees, among the Arabs those two opposing positions are tied.
Exactly a year ago former Prime Minister Netanyahu signed the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In your opinion, so far have the accords fulfilled the expectations of them? (%, Jewish sample and Arab sample)
Apparently because the question mentions Prime Minister Netanyahu as the one who signed the Abraham Accords, the rate of those who identified themselves as right-wing and who think the accords have met the expectations of them is especially high (71%), though there is an affirmative majority in the center and on the left as well (center 58%, left 55%).
The Chances of Signing an Accord with the Palestinians
And what about signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians? It turns out that a huge majority of the public as a whole does not foresee a signing in the next five years.
What, in your opinion, are the chances that in the next five years a peace accord will also be signed with the Palestinians? (%, Jewish sample and Arab sample, very low and low chances)
In each of the three political camps, we found a majority assessing the chances of signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians in the next five years as very low and moderately low (left 88%, center 85.5%, right 92%). In other words, even among those who think the Abraham Accords have yielded positive results, there is little faith in the emergence of an accord with the Palestinians.
The Iranian Danger
Attack or Agreement?
We asked: “In light of the fact that Iran will apparently soon reach a nuclear capability, in your opinion who was more right: those who favored a military attack on Iran at early stages of its nuclear development, an attack that could have sparked an offensive against Israel, or those who claimed that a settlement should be reached with Iran in the hope that it would prevent progress toward a nuclear capability?” The positions of the Jews and the Arabs on this question are the inverse of each other: while about half of the Jews think the supporters of an attack were more right and a quarter say the supporters of an agreement were, among the Arabs slightly less than half favor those who preferred an agreement and a very small minority supports the position that a military attack was called for. It should be noted that, not surprisingly, given the complexity of the issue and its remoteness from ordinary citizens, the rate of “Don’t knows” in both samples is especially high.
Who was more right: those who favored a military attack on Iran at early stages of its nuclear development or those who claimed that a settlement should be reached with Iran? (%, Jewish sample and Arab sample)
As expected, on this issue there are large gaps between the Israeli political camps: on the left, the rate of those favoring an agreement exceeds the rate of those favoring an attack (48% vs. 28%); in the center, the rate of those preferring an attack exceeds the rate of those preferring a settlement (42% vs. 26%); while on the right a large majority favors an attack and a small minority takes the view that it would have been right to seek an agreement (62% compared to 16%).
The Chances of an Iranian Nuclear Attack
It turns out that, with the public assuming that despite Israel’s policy of ambiguity it is known in the world that it has nuclear weapons, both the Jewish public and the Arab public are quite unruffled about this issue. In both of them only slightly more than a third fear that Israel will be attacked with nuclear weapons if Iran attains that capability (Jews 37.5%, Arabs 35%). The majority sees the chances of such an attack as low, indicating that the position of the different governments on the anticipated danger from Iran has not deeply percolated into the consciousness of the Israeli public.
“Despite Israel’s official policy of ambiguity, it apparently has advanced nuclear weapons. In your opinion, what are the chances that in case of a direct clash Iran will use nuclear weapons against Israel?” (%, entire sample)
Prime Minister Bennett’s Speech to the UN
Recently there has been much talk about the speech the prime minister gave at the UN. Some saw it as a success and some saw it as a failure.
We found, as expected, that this assessment is closely related to the interviewees’ political location. Below is the segmentation by voting in the March 2021 Knesset elections. Note that even among voters for Yamina, Bennett’s party, only slightly more than a third characterized the speech as good or excellent.
What grade would you give Prime Minister Bennett’s speech to the UN General Assembly? (%, good and excellent, by voting in the latest elections)
The COVID-19 Crisis
The Government’s Restrictions for Preventing Infection
We wanted to know to what extent the restrictions the current government has imposed to prevent infection win or do not win the public’s approval. Forty-two percent of the interviewees (entire sample) said the government’s restrictions are appropriate to the situation, a slightly lower rate (39%) said they are not severe enough, and only 14% viewed they as too severe.
In this case, too, the responses are explainable largely in terms of the responders’ political positions: whereas half of those who voted for coalition parties in the most recent elections see the restrictions as appropriate to the situation while less than a third claim they are not severe enough, among opposition voters the picture is exactly the opposite: half said the restrictions are not severe enough while slightly over a third saw them as appropriate.
The restrictions the government has imposed regarding COVID-19 are: (%, voting in the most recent elections, by division into coalition and opposition parties)
The gaps on this question between the Jewish and Arab samples are considerable. Whereas, among the Jews, the rates of those who see the restrictions as appropriate or not severe enough are almost identical, among the Arabs a much higher rate views them as too severe.
The restrictions the government has imposed regarding COVID-19 are: (%, Jewish and Arab sample)
Sanctions for the Unvaccinated?
In light of the data showing that the current wave of infections is found mostly among the unvaccinated, some claim that different sanctions should be imposed on them. We looked into which sanctions the public supports. We found that more than half think that unvaccinated people who refuse to be tested should be banned from public places, that they should be charged a fee for medical treatment, and that unemployment benefits should be denied those who refuse to be tested. At the same time, less than a third said those who have been vaccinated should be given priority for connection to an ECMO. Regarding all the sanctions that were presented, the Jews’ support is greater than the Arabs’ support. The largest disparity was found on the two questions with economic aspects (charging a fee for medical treatment and denying unemployment benefits).
Support imposing different sanctions on the unvaccinated (%, Jewish sample and Arab sample)
A segmentation by political camps of the Jewish sample’s responses concerning the different sanctions did not reveal substantial differences. Overall, in the Jewish sample the older age groups take stricter positions on sanctions. The age effect was found to be weaker in the Arab sample.
Grading Prime Minister Bennett on His Handling of the COVID-19 Crisis
The evaluation Prime Minister Bennett gets for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis is relatively low. Only a little more than a quarter see his performance as good or excellent (27%), a similar rate view it as medium (26%), while 43% say they think the prime minister is performing not well or poorly.
Attitudes toward Bennett in the Jewish public are largely related to the respondents’ political positions. A majority on the right (55%) views the prime minister as handling the COVID-19 crisis poorly, while in the center and on the left only about a quarter see it that way (28% and 25% respectively). Similarly, whereas a large majority of voters for the opposition parties, apart from Joint List voters, gave the prime minister a low grade for his management of the COVID-19 crisis, only about a quarter of the coalition voters assigned him that grade.
A grade of not good/poor for Prime Minister Bennett on leading the struggle against COVID-19 (%, entire sample)
Very great congruence was found between the responses to the two questions about the prime minister—the grade for his speech to the UN and the grade for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Eighty percent of those who gave him a grade of not good to poor for his UN speech also gave him that grade for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis; 74% of those who assigned him a grade of very good to excellent for his UN speech assigned him the same grade for his management of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Government’s Order of Priorities for the Coming Year
On the question of what should be the governmental order of priorities, we found large gaps between the Jewish and the Arab public. Whereas more than half of the latter chose the fight against crime as the government’s cardinal task in the coming year, and after it stabilizing the economy, in the Jewish public that task comes in only fourth – after stabilizing the economy, fighting COVID-19, and stopping Iran’s nuclear program.
What should be at the top of the government’s order of priorities in the coming year? (%, Jews and Arabs)
Rather surprisingly, a segmentation of the Jewish sample by political camps did not turn up large differences in terms of placement of the different goals. In all three of them, stabilizing the economy appears as the first goal in importance (in the center 44% put it at the top, on the left 36%, and on the right 33%). At the bottom of the scale in all three camps is seeking an agreement with the Palestinians (left 8.5%, center 6%, right 1%).
The Israeli Voice Index for September 2021 was prepared by the Viterbi 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 September 30 to October 4, 2021, 603 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 153 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 3.59%± at a confidence level of 95%. The fieldwork was done by the Midgam Institute. For the full data file see: Data Israel