Accueil > Rubriques > Paix et Justice - Géopolitique > Peace Index / They know the price of peace, but are unwilling to pay (...)

Peace Index / They know the price of peace, but are unwilling to pay it

By Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann

mercredi 10 janvier 2007

Wed., January 10, 2007

Education Minister Yuli Tamir’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 Knesset Education Committee, and unlike Tamir’s position, the rate of those who prefer 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 believes 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 to 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 a fear 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 Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. 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, which was carried out on January 1-2, 2007.

Evacuating settlements will not suffice
Exactly half of the public opposes Tamir’s decision to start marking the Green Line on schoolbook maps while 38 percent support it (the rest have no clear opinion on the matter). As expected, the support runs very high among Meretz voters 78 percent, and Labor voters 69 percent. 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 percent 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 percent are not sure or have no opinion on the issue ; and only about 25 percent think or are sure that peace can be reached even without dismantling most of the settlements. Nevertheless, 53 percent oppose evacuating most of the Jewish settlements in the territories for a full peace agreement and only 34 percent favor it (the rest have no clear opinion or no opinion on the subject). This opposition could be rooted in the widespread view 68 percent 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 draw the Palestinians into a full peace agreement with Israel. As expected, this majority is slightly smaller among those who support an evacuation.

Despite the reservations about an evacuation, a majority of the public does not back the government’s decision to expand certain settlements to absorb evacuees from the Gaza Strip. On this question the opinions are split with, in fact, a slight advantage for the opponents : 41 percent favor an expansion and 45 percent oppose it, apparently out of concern for aggravating relations with the Palestinians. A segmentation of the responses by voting for the Knesset shows a clear distinction between the Left and the Right. Eighty-nine percent of Meretz voters and 84 percent of Labor voters oppose an expansion. A majority 56 percent of Kadima voters are against it while 36 percent 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 percent 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. Indeed, a majority of members of all parties except Meretz see this as the Palestinians’ intention. Among Meretz voters, 33 percent currently think the Palestinians would destroy Israel if they could, 23 percent oppose this view and 44 percent do not know.

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

Yet, at the same time, 70 percent favor having contacts with the Palestinians such as the meeting Olmert recently held with Abbas (only 21 percent oppose such contacts and the rest have no definite view). Moreover, a clear majority 58 percent also favor contacts with Hamas leaders if the organization frees abducted soldier Gilad Shalit (37 percent oppose this and the rest have no opinion on the matter). Not surprisingly, there is some congruence between support for contacts with the PA and support for contacts with Hamas. Among those who support meetings like the one between Olmert and Abbas, 66 percent also favor negotiations with Hamas and 33 percent oppose them. Among those who oppose the meeting between Olmert and Abu Mazen, however, only 37 percent support contacts with Hamas and 58.5 percent are against them.

Support for Hussein’s execution
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 an edge over the rest, there is no sense of contentment across the board. Some 19 percent reported that they were very happy, 27 percent that they were moderately happy, 13.5 percent were moderately unhappy and 13 percent 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 percent see it is a positive step and 30 percent think it will harm regional stability.

And if we are dealing with the future, it turns out the public is quite optimistic about the new year. Forty-three percent think it will be a better year for the world than last year, 29 percent expect it to be worse and 27 percent say things will more or less stay the same. As for Israel, 45 percent foresee a better year, whereas 30 percent predict a worse one. Here, too, about one-quarter think the situation will not change. And as for personal futures, 67 percent see a better future for themselves in the new year, 7.5 percent expect a worse one, and 26.5 percent do not anticipate a change for better or for worse. Although the majority is optimistic, as expected we found a clear connection between degree of optimism and income level. Among those with a lower-than-average income, 56 percent are optimistic ; among those with an average one, 74 percent are optimistic, and 78 percent 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 : This month only a Jewish sample was included in the survey because of the difficulty of conducting interviews with the Arab public during the Id al-Adha holiday