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Poll: Promoting peace between Israel and Palestine the lowest priority

October 20, 2021 at 1:38 pm

Israeli and foreigner peace activists stage a protest against Israeli authorities’ decision on evacuating Palestinian families who live in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Eastern Jerusalem on 25 January 2019. [Faiz Abu Rmeleh – Anadolu Agency]

A slim majority, 53 per cent of Israelis, believe that Israel should seek assistance from the countries it has normalised relations with to advance peace with the Palestinians, a new survey has found.

However, Mitvim – the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies survey conducted in September, also revealed that promoting peace with the Palestinians came in last place out of the priorities of issues listed, at 5.64 out of ten. This score has been on a steady decline since 2019.

A year after the Abraham Accords were signed, out of the representative sample of 700 Israeli adults polled for the survey, 34 per cent think the agreements are a turning point for Israel’s acceptance in the Middle East, while 31 per cent think Israel’s status has not changed significantly.

The United Arab Emirates and Morocco are the Arab countries that Israelis are most interested in visiting, at 10 per cent each, followed by Lebanon at 7 per cent, Egypt at 6 per cent while Saudi Arabia and Jordan are both only of interest to 3 per cent.

About half – 48 per cent – of Israelis do not want to visit any Arab country, up from 42 per cent last year.

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Moreover, about half of Israelis think that meetings between Israeli ministers and their Palestinian counterparts are not a positive development; 30 per cent think it is merely symbolic and 17 per cent think it is negative and harms Israeli interests. Only 32 per cent think the meetings are positive and will improve relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

When it comes to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) economic and political crisis, 38 per cent of Israelis think Israel should not be involved, 28 per cent believe Israel should act to strengthen the PA and 13 per cent think Israel should weaken the PA.

Additionally, only 9 percent of Israelis think the government is handling Gaza well; 31 per cent think Israel should try to bring the PA back in control of the Gaza Strip while 22 per cent think the international community should be enlisted for Gaza’s economic rehabilitation and 13% favoured negotiations with Hamas for a long-term settlement.

The survey also found that almost half of Israelis, 47 per cent, view the EU as adversarial to Israel, which will improve its economic situation if they exclude the settlements. Meanwhile, 35 per cent believe the country should join the EU programmes.

The United States (US) is the most important country for the public in Israel. Russia ranked second, followed by Germany, Britain, China, Egypt, France and Jordan. The public gives US-Israel relations a score of 6.46 out of 10, with only 35 per cent rating the state of relations with the US as good—the lowest score since 2016 before Trump took office, and a steep decline from last year’s rating of 8.05 out of 10 and 67 per cent rating the relationship as good.

Dr Ilai Saltzman, a Mitvim board member, said that it is not surprising that the Israelis surveyed believe that US President, Joe Biden, is less beneficial for Israel than the former US President, Donald Trump, citing his association with the Obama administration, which was considered by many Israelis as hostile to the Jewish state.

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Also, Trump was perceived as being very favourable to Israel and the Democratic Party is seen as the ideological opposite of many right-leaning Israelis.

However, Saltzman added that Biden has not been in office for a full year and should be examined “based on his commitment to Israel’s security, his contribution to resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, advancement of the regional peace agreements, a solution to the conflict with Iran, and Israel’s renewed positioning as the subject of bipartisan American support.”

The poll was conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute, in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation.