Most Jewish Israelis expect the war to continue for months, while a majority of Jewish respondents do not support a deal for the release of the hostages in return for the release of all Palestinian prisoners and a cessation of the fighting in Gaza. Meanwhile, over 60% of Israelis claim that their personal lives have returned to normal.
This ninth flash survey was conducted by the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute. Data collection was carried out between January 14–17, 2024, with 502 men and women interviewed via the internet and by telephone in Hebrew and 111 in Arabic. The maximum sampling error was ±4.04% at a confidence level of 95%. Field work was carried out by the Lazar Research Institute headed by Dr. Menachem Lazar.
Topics covered in this report:
- How long will the war continue?
- Responding to US demands about the continuation of the fighting
- The functioning of the IDF and the war cabinet
- Rating the resilience of the Israeli public
- Opinions on a deal for the return of the hostages
- Should the National Unity party remain in the government?
- “Returning home” grants for residents of the south
- Is now the right time to investigate the events of October 7?
- Back to normality?
- News consumption
Half the Jewish interviewees think that the war against Hamas will continue for more than another four months. In the opinion of the rest, it will be concluded before then, while 15% say they don’t know. Among Arabs, the largest share of respondents (29%) selected the “don’t know” option, while the second most popular response is that the war is expected to last at least another four months.
In your opinion, how much longer will the war against Hamas continue? (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
The assessment that the fighting will continue for more than four months was also the most common response across all three political camps (in the Jewish sample) and across voters for all political parties (total sample).
We repeated a question that we asked in mid-November: “Since the outbreak of the war, the United States and President Biden have stood beside Israel in every respect – militarily, diplomatically, and more. There are now signs that the United States also has demands of Israel which are not always acceptable to the Israeli leadership. In your opinion, what should Israel do: act only in coordination with the Americans, or act only in accordance with the judgement of Israel’s leadership?” The distribution of responses in the current survey was very similar to that from the previous measurement: Among Jewish respondents, the most popular opinion is that Israel should act only in accordance with the judgement of Israel’s leadership, while among Arab respondents, the majority think that Israel should act in coordination with the Americans.
What should Israel do: act only in coordination with the Americans, or act only in accordance with the judgement of Israel’s leadership? (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
There are large discrepancies on this issue between different political camps (in the Jewish sample): on the Left, a solid majority (75%) are in favor of coordination with the Americans, a view that is held by just over half of those in the Center (53%) and only a quarter of those on the Right (26%), while the majority on the Right think that Israel should act only in accordance with the judgement of Israel’s leadership (61%). Among those on the Right who hold this latter position, voters for Religious Zionism are most strongly in favor (80%, compared with 65% of Likud voters, for example) Unsurprisingly, of voters for the National Unity party (which is now in the coalition), only a third think that the judgment of Israel’s leadership should be the deciding factor in Israel’s decision-making.
Among Jewish interviewees, 88% give a positive assessment of the performance of IDF forces in the war until now. By contrast, only a minority of Arab interviewees concur (43%).
Regarding the functioning of the war cabinet, only a minority (albeit large) of Jews (46%) and a small minority of Arabs (14%) hold a positive view.
Give a positive assessment of the functioning of IDF forces and the war cabinet (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
In contrast with the widely positive assessment of the functioning of IDF forces given by the Jewish public (across all political camps, religious groupings, age groups, sexes, and so on), there are large political differences when it comes to assessments of the functioning of the war cabinet: more than half of those on the Right give the cabinet a good grade (53%), compared with a large minority in the Center (42%) and a small minority on the Left (19%).
Similarly, a breakdown of findings by vote in the last elections reveals significant discrepancies between voters for different parties: A large majority of voters for the two Haredi parties (United Torah Judaism and Shas) and of Likud voters give a positive assessment of the functioning of the war cabinet. Among voters for the National Unity party, which of course is represented in the war cabinet, just over half rate the cabinet’s performance as good. Among voters for all other parties, only a minority (of differing sizes) have a positive view. A particularly interesting finding is that only a minority of voters for Religious Zionism (which is a member of the coalition but is not represented in the war cabinet) give a positive assessment of the cabinet’s functioning.
Give a positive assessment of the functioning of the war cabinet (total sample, by vote in the 2022 elections; %)
For the third time since the beginning of the war, we asked our respondents for their assessment of the resilience of the Israeli public, and we received interesting results: Since the first measurement, made around two weeks after the events of October 7, there has been no change in the sense of public resilience, and all three surveys found a large majority in the Jewish public who rate this resilience as high (on average, 89%). This view is also held by a stable majority of the Arab public, albeit a much smaller majority than that found in the Jewish sample (on average, 57.5%).
Rate the resilience of the Israeli public during the war until now as high (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
As was the case previously, we again found only small differences between political camps (Jewish sample). However, there has been an increase relative to the previous measurement in the share of respondents on the Left who rate public resilience as high (from 81% to 93%), alongside a decline among respondents on the Right (from 91% to 87%). In the Center, there has been no real change in the size of the majority who think that public resilience is high.
The majority of Jewish interviewees (60%) think that it is not right for Israel to agree to a deal for the release of the hostages in return for releasing all Palestinian prisoners and halting the fighting in Gaza. Among Arabs, the picture is reversed, and a large majority (78.5%) support agreeing to such a deal.
Breaking down responses in the Jewish sample by political orientation finds a small majority on the Left who are in favor of Israel agreeing to a deal on those terms, compared with a large minority in the Center and a small minority on the Right.
Think it is right for Israel to agree to a deal for the release of the hostages in return for releasing all Palestinian prisoners and halting the fighting in Gaza (Jewish sample, by political orientation; %)
We asked: “Against the backdrop of severe differences of opinion in the government, mainly with the right-wing ministers Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, do you think that the National Unity party headed by Gantz should remain in the government or leave the government?” The majority of Jewish respondents think that the National Unity party should stay in the government (61%), while a majority of Arab respondents think it should quit (63%).
A breakdown by vote in the last Knesset elections reveals that apart from voters for the two Arab parties, a majority of voters for all other parties are in favor of National Unity remaining in the government. This includes voters for Yesh Atid, which chose to remain in the opposition, and even more so, voters for Yisrael Beytenu, which also chose not to join the emergency government.
Think that the National Unity party should remain in the government (total sample, by vote in the 2022 elections; %)
We further found that among respondents who think that the war cabinet has been functioning well, a large majority say that National Unity should remain in the government (73.5%), while those who think that the war cabinet has not been functioning well are divided on this issue (43% say National Unity should stay in the government, and 45% that it should leave).
We asked: “The government recently decided to provided ‘returning home’ grants to some of those who left their homes in the south, with the aim of encouraging them to move back to their homes. In your opinion, is it right or not right at the current time to encourage residents of the south to return home?” Just over one-half of Jewish respondents (52%) think it is not right to encourage residents to return home at the moment, while 37.5% say it is the right thing to do. Among Arab respondents, opinions are divided: a similar share to that found among Jews (39%) believe that this course of action is correct, while 41% take the opposite view.
Though just over a half of the Jewish sample are not in favor of encouraging residents of the south to return home, there are significant differences between the political camps: Only a quarter of those on the Left (24%) support “returning home” grants, as do less than a third of those in the Center (29%), while the equivalent share on the Right is much larger (43.5%).
Since October 7, there has been extremely lively public and political debate regarding the right time to investigate the events surrounding the attack. We asked: “In your opinion, has the time already come to officially investigate the events of October 7 in the political and military arenas?” While less than a half of Jewish interviewees (46%) believe that the time has come to begin an official investigation, this is the view held by a large majority of Arab interviewees (72%).
A clear indication of the political nature of opinions regarding the right time to investigate the events surrounding October 7 can be seen in the differences between the Right, on the one hand, and the Left and the Center on the other (in the Jewish sample): On the Left, a large majority think that the time has now come to begin such an investigation (82%), as do a smaller majority of those in the Center (59%), whereas a majority of those on the Right (59%) say that the time is not yet ripe for an official investigation.
Has the time already come to officially investigate the events of October 7 in the political and military arenas? (Arab sample; Jewish sample, by political orientation; %)
Breaking down responses by vote in the last elections reveals that the strongest opposition to launching an official investigation into the events of October 7 at the current time is found among Likud voters (68%), while there is less (though still majority) opposition among voters for other right-wing parties in the coalition (Shas, 58%; Religious Zionism, 57%; United Torah Judaism, 50%). A large majority of voters for all other parties are in favor of beginning an investigation now, including National Unity voters, of whom a majority support this despite their chosen party now being a member of the emergency government (59%).
In this survey, we repeated a question we asked in mid-December about whether interviewees’ lives had returned to normal recently, and we found an increase in the share of those who responded in the affirmative (from 49% to 62.5%), while the share of those whose lives have not gone back to normal has fallen (from 47% to 33%). The distribution of responses on this question is similar among the Jewish and Arab samples. This finding fits the assessment that the Israeli public is displaying resilience and rehabilitating itself over time. Interestingly, despite the similarity between women and men regarding this question, a larger share of men than of women (both Jewish and Arab) reported having returned to normality.
Still, we discovered differences between political camps among Jewish respondents. The largest share of respondents who say that their lives have gone back to normal was found on the Left (78%), and the smallest was found in the Center (55%), with the Right somewhere in between (63%).
To what extent has your personal life (such as work, media consumption, get-togethers with family and friends, etc.) returned to normal, or close to normal, recently? (total sample; %)
In a similar vein to the previous question, and seemingly as part of a certain return to normality, we found a majority of the total sample who reported a decline in their news consumption compared to the first weeks of the war (22% are following the news much less or not at all, and 36% are following it a little less, for a total of 58%).
To what extent are you currently following news about the war on television and on the radio, compared to the weeks immediately after October 7? (total sample; %)
The distribution of responses was found to be similar across all three political camps (Jewish sample). That is, news exhaustion now seems to be a feature of the entire Jewish public. Follow news about the war on television and radio less than during the weeks immediately after October 7 (Jewish sample, by political orientation; %)