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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Peace Index Poll: 69.5% Palestinians would destroy Israel if could, 53% oppose evacuating most of the Jewish settlements for full peace agreement

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:  This month's Peace Index poll provides important
insight for those wanting to interpret polls.  The same Israeli who want to
negotiate,etc. don't think much will come from it = the reason that they
support certain activities is for other reasons than the stated purpose of
the activity (for example, they may support talks becuase they think it will
keep Washington happy).

From the standpoint of the policy debate, with  69.5% of Israeli Jews
convinced that the Palestinians would destroy Israel if they could, it is
clear that the primary focus for opponents of retreat proposals should be
the security ramifications.]


Peace Index: December 2006
Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann

The education minister's decision to have the Green Line marked on maps in
schoolbooks, and the controversy it sparked, led us to reexplore this month
the Israeli Jewish public's views on the future of the settlements and
relations with the Palestinians. In keeping with the Education Committee of
the Knesset, and unlike the minister's position, the rate of those
preferring that the Green Line not be marked on the maps is higher than the
rate of those who agree with her. Likewise, even though a considerable
majority of the Jewish public realizes that it is impossible to reach a
peace agreement with the Palestinians without evacuating most of the Jewish
settlements in the territories, only a minority supports such an evacuation
and an even smaller minority thinks the Palestinians would sign a peace
treaty in return. At the same time, opinions are divided on the government's
recent decision to expand some settlements in the territories so that they
can absorb evacuees from the Gaza Strip. That is, at least some of the
opponents of an evacuation oppose a further expansion of settlements,
apparently out of worry of aggravating relations with the Palestinians.

In other aspects of relations with the Palestinians, too, there is a certain
ambivalence in the public's positions, resembling or perhaps influenced by
the government's policy on the issue. Despite the prevailing assessments
that most of the Palestinians would destroy the state of Israel if they
could and that the recent decline in terror attacks was caused first and
foremost by preventive Israeli actions and not by Palestinian measures, we
found sweeping support in the Jewish public for holding contacts like the
recent meeting between Olmert and Abu Mazen. Indeed, a clear-albeit
smaller-majority says that if Hamas were to free Gilad Shalit, Israel should
agree to talk with its leaders as well.

The execution of Saddam Hussein was a source of satisfaction for the
majority of the Israeli Jewish public, and the majority also thinks it was
an appropriate measure that will increase the chances of regional calm.

With the onset of the new secular year, it appears that the Jewish public
tends to be optimistic about what it will bring for the world and for
Israel, and still more for their own personal fortunes.

Those are the main findings of the Peace Index survey for December 2006 that
was carried out on 1-2 January 2007.
Exactly half the public opposes the education minister's decision to start
marking the Green Line on schoolbook maps while 38% support it (the rest
have no clear opinion on the matter). As expected, the support runs very
high among Meretz voters-78%, and Labor voters-69%. Kadima voters are
divided on the question. Among voters for the rest of the parties, opponents
have a clear majority. We checked, therefore, current views about the
territories beyond the Green Line. It turns out that a clear majority of
59.5% think or are sure that it is now impossible to reach peace with the
Palestinians without evacuating a majority of the Jewish settlements in the
territories; 16% are not sure or have no opinion on the issue; and only
about one-quarter think or are sure that peace can be reached even without
dismantling most of the settlements. Nevertheless, 53% oppose evacuating
most of the Jewish settlements in the territories for a full peace agreement
and only 34% favor it (the rest have no clear opinion or no opinion on the
subject). This opposition could be rooted in the widespread view-68%-that
even dismantling most of the settlements would not suffice for the
Palestinians to sign a full peace agreement with Israel. A cross-section of
the two questions-readiness for a mass evacuation and assessment of the
chances that the Palestinians would be satisfied-shows that both among
supporters and opponents of an evacuation, a majority thinks it would not be
enough to bring the Palestinians to sign a full peace agreement with Israel.
As expected, this majority is slightly smaller among the supporters of an

Despite the reservations about an evacuation, a majority of the public does
not back the government's decision to expand certain settlements so that
they can absorb evacuees from the Gaza Strip. On this question the opinions
are split with, in fact, a slight advantage for the opponents: 41% favor an
expansion and 45% oppose it, apparently out of concern about aggravating
relations with the Palestinians. A segmentation of the responses by voting
for the Knesset shows a clear distinction between Left and Right.
Eighty-nine percent of Meretz voters and 84% of Labor voters oppose an
expansion. A majority-56%-of Kadima voters are against it while 36% support
it. In all the other parties, a majority of voters favor it.

This month we returned to the question we asked many times in the past about
the basic intentions of the Palestinians. This time, too, a clear
majority-69.5%-said that if they could, the Palestinians would destroy the
state of Israel. Here we should note that since 1994 there have been only
small fluctuations on this question, between two-thirds and three-quarters,
compared to the volatility of events. Indeed, a majority of members of all
parties except Meretz see this as the Palestinians' intention. Among Meretz
voters, 33% currently think the Palestinians would destroy Israel if they
could, 23% oppose this view, and 44% do not know.

Not surprisingly, then, when asked what has caused the decrease in terror
attacks in recent times, the majority-42%-ascribe it to the preventive
measures by the Israeli security forces and only 29% to an intentional
avoidance by the Palestinians for their own reasons. Ten percent attribute
equal importance to both factors, 3% to neither of them, and the rest have
no clear opinion.

Yet, at the same time, 70% favor having contacts with the Palestinians such
as the meeting Prime Minister Olmert recently held with Palestinian
president Abu Mazen (only 21% oppose such contacts and the rest have no
definite view). Moreover, a clear majority-58%-also favor contacts with
Hamas leaders if the organization frees abducted soldier Gilad Shalit (37%
oppose this and the rest have no opinion on the matter). Not surprisingly,
there is congruence though not identity between support for contacts with
the Authority and support for contacts with Hamas. Among those who support
meetings like the one between Olmert and Abu Mazen, 66% also favor
negotiations with Hamas and 33% oppose them. Among those who oppose the
meeting between Olmert and Abu Mazen, however, only 37% support contacts
with Hamas and 58.5% are against them.
We wanted to know how Israelis felt about last week's execution of former
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Although those who were satisfied with the
hanging have the edge, it is not a matter of happiness across the board.
Some 19% reported that they were very happy, 27% that they were moderately
happy, 13.5% moderately unhappy, and 13% were not happy at all. About
one-fourth responded that the event did not affect them emotionally. As for
how this measure will influence the future of the region, 53% see it is a
positive step and 30% think it will harm regional stability.

And if we are dealing with the future, it turns out the public is quite
optimistic about the year that is just beginning. Forty-three percent think
it will be better for the world than the preceding one, 29% expect it to be
worse, and 27% say things will more or less stay the same. As for Israel,
45% foresee a better year whereas 30% predict a worse one. Here, too, about
one-quarter think the situation will not change. And as for personal future,
67% see a better future for themselves in the new year, 7.5% expect a worse
one, and 26.5% do not anticipate a change for better or worse. Although the
majority are optimistic, as expected we found a clear connection between
degree of optimism and income level. Among those with a lower-than-average
income, 56% are optimistic; among those with an average one, 74%; and 78% of
those with a higher-than-average income are optimistic.

The peace indexes for this month were:
Oslo Index: 31
Negotiation Index: 47
Syria Index: 29

Note that this month only a Jewish sample was included in the survey because
of the difficulty in conducting interviews with the Arab public during the
Id al-Adha holiday.

The Peace Index project is conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace
Research and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel
Aviv University, headed by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann. The
telephone interviews were conducted by the B. I. Cohen Institute of Tel Aviv
University on 1-2 January 2007 and included 488 interviewees who represent
the adult Jewish population in Israel (including the territories and the
kibbutzim). The sampling error for a sample of this size is 4.5%
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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