80% of Israelis support the war on Palestinian terrorism

Ha'aretz (www.haaretzdaily.com) has released polls conducted among the adult Jewish and Arab population of Israel. Here are some interesting numbers:

'Determined Path' is supported by 80% of Jewish Israelis
('Determined Path' is the currently Israeli military presence in the West Bank and Gaza, with the purpose of destroying the Palestinian terrorist organizations such as the Islamic Jihad, the Hamas and Arafat's groups, e.g. the Al-Aksa brigages)
In the meantime, the policy of choice is to build a separation fence, even if its route leaves at least a part of the Jewish settlements outside it. This is presumably due to the evaluation that a very small minority on the Palestinian side has reservations about suicide terror, and that such support is virtually unconnected to Israel's day-to-day behavior regarding the Palestinian population in the territories.

I copy the full article below.

Determined Path is supported by 80% of Jewish Israelis
But the public has also concluded that taking over Palestinian towns will have only a short-term effect on reducing terror.
By Prof. Ephraim Ya'ar and Dr. Tamar Hermann

As was the case with Operation Defensive Shield before it, Operation Determined Path, too, is broadly supported by the Jewish public, in the clear realization that this time the Israel Defense Forces are meant to remain in the Palestinian towns for an extended period of time. This, despite the prevailing view that taking over the Palestinian towns will significantly reduce terrorist activity for only a short time.

Only one quarter of respondents do not believe Prime Minister Sharon's declarations that he is prepared to return to the negotiating table if Palestinian terror is halted, and that he has a political program that could serve as the basis for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

In the meantime, the policy of choice is to build a separation fence, even if its route leaves at least a part of the Jewish settlements outside it. This is presumably due to the evaluation that a very small minority on the Palestinian side has reservations about suicide terror, and that such support is virtually unconnected to Israel's day-to-day behavior regarding the Palestinian population in the territories.

As for President Bush's speech, a distinct majority of the Israeli Jewish public supports the course he outlined, although it calls on the IDF to withdraw to the positions it held prior to the present intifada, for a freeze on settlements, an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

These are the principal findings of the Peace Index for June 2002, conducted on Tuesday-Thursday, June 25-27, 2002.

Some 80 percent of Jewish respondents fairly or strongly support the IDF move into Palestinian towns, knowing that the declared aim is to remain there for as long as is needed. This support is more prevalent in the right-wing camp; but the left, too, shows broad support for Operation Determined Path. The support rate among Sharon voters is 90 percent, while that of Barak voters is 68 percent.

Since only 30 percent believe that the IDF presence in these towns could reduce terror in the long term, while a majority (55 percent) expects the terror to be lessened only in the short term (7 percent feel that the operation will not reduce the terror at all, and 3 percent believe that it will even increase it), the obvious conclusion is that - in light of the harsh terror attacks that have occurred in recent months - the public now seems ready to support almost any means of anti-terror warfare, including a renewed take-over of the territories, even if this is only of short-term benefit.

It should be noted that only a minority of the Israeli Jewish public previously favored a reoccupation of the Palestinian-controlled territories. Thus, for instance, in the peace index of October 2001, when the IDF moved into Palestinian towns, only one quarter of the Jewish public felt that the IDF should remain there for an unlimited period of time. In this respect, we are witnessing a significant change in the positions of the Israeli-Jewish public.

Concurrently, the findings attest to a high degree of trust in the genuineness of Sharon's intention to return to the negotiating table if the terror is halted, and in his declarations about a peace program that could serve as the basis for future negotiations. Some 65 percent believed his statements, against only 25 percent who feel that Sharon has no such program and that he has no real interest in renewing talks with the Palestinians.

Compared to the replies obtained to a similar question submitted in February 2001, the public's trust in Sharon has evidently increased: At that time 55 percent believed him, and 30 percent did not. It is interesting to note that the rate of those believing Sharon's declarations in the left wing (49 percent) exceeds that of the non-believers (36 percent), albeit the gap between believers (75 percent) and non-believers (18 percent) in the right wing is, as anticipated, much larger.

As previously, now that the construction of the separation fence has moved into the practical stage, we have again found a very high degree of trust in this measure. Thus 57 percent were in favor, despite the question's noting that while the actual course of the fence was not yet certain, it would obviously leave at least some Jewish settlements outside the protected and fenced-in area. Only 34 percent expressed reservations regarding the building of a fence under these conditions.

The fact that settlements would be left outside the fence presumably explains the far higher rate of support for building the fence among leftist voters (75 percent in favor against 20 percent opposed), than among right-wing voters (47 percent in favor against 41 percent opposed). Support for the fence can to a considerable degree be explained by the prevailing concept (67 percent) that only a small minority of Palestinians have reservations about suicide attacks - a stand recently expressed in an advertisement printed in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds and signed by some 200 Palestinian intellectuals. Only about 14 percent believe that this advertisement will carry much weight with the general Palestinian public, while some 46 percent claim that its influence will be limited, and 33 percent believe that this or any similar advertisement will have no influence at all on the general Palestinian public.

It should be noted that the estimate on the Jewish side regarding the overall Palestinian public's widespread support of suicide attacks is similar to the findings of polls conducted by various Palestinian public opinion institutes, in which at least 70 percent of the residents of the territories say they support such attacks.

In this light it is particularly interesting that a majority of the Jewish public (57 percent) today believes that even if Israel were to ease the lives of the Palestinian population in the territories, for example by loosening restrictions on movement and similar arrangements, this would not change the Palestinians' position on suicide attacks, nor would it strengthen opposition to the use of such actions.

In other words, the Israeli Jewish public evidently believes that these attacks are not the result of Israel's day-to-day behavior in the territories. It should be noted that some months ago, when a siege was imposed on Arafat in Ramallah, we found two-thirds of the Jewish public felt that, concurrent with its pressure on Arafat, Israel should make efforts to ease, as far as possible, the daily lives of Palestinians in the territories. Assuming that this approach has not changed significantly, as serious terror attacks took place during that time, it may be assumed that the Jewish public makes a distinction between the humanitarian and practical aspects in its stance on the policy to be implemented vis a vis the Palestinian population.

Does this mean that some form of solution is on the horizon where the Jewish public is concerned? After presenting the main points of the program outlined by President Bush in his speech last week as one whole parcel comprising all its components - including his call on the IDF to withdraw to the positions held prior to the outbreak of the intifada, to freeze the settlements and end the occupation - this is seemingly supported by about 62 percent of the Jewish public, while 31 percent are opposed to it. Presumably due to the demands it makes on Israel that are included in the program, it has obtained greater support from leftist voters (76 percent) than from right-wing voters (58 percent). The public is, however, evenly divided (46 percent and 46 percent) about whether this program could or could not have a genuine impact on changing the situation between Israel and the Palestinians.

As we have found in the past, the views of the Israeli Arab public on most of these issues are diametrically opposed to those of the Israeli Jewish public. Thus a decisive majority of 86 percent is opposed to Operation Determined Path, and 80 percent do not believe that Sharon has any peace plan whatsoever, or that he is interested in returning to the negotiating table. The majority of the Israeli Arab public is also opposed to the separation fence (60 percent), and to the Bush plan (58 percent). Virtually the only issue in which there is considerable similarity between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel regards the perceived support of the Palestinian public for suicide attacks. Both sides feel that only a minority of the Palestinian public is opposed to such attacks.

The peace indices for this month are as follows:

General Peace Index - Total sample: 54.9. Jewish sample: 52.8

Oslo Index - Total sample: 30.5. Jewish sample: 27.3

Syria Index - Total sample 37.5. Jewish sample: 33.0.

The peace index project is conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Institute for Peace at Tel Aviv University, headed by Prof. Ephraim Ya'ar and Dr. Tamar Hermann. The telephone interviews were conducted by the B.I. Cohen Institute of Public Opinion Research at Tel Aviv University on June 25-27, 2002 and comprised 571 respondents, representing the adult Jewish and Arab populations of this country (including Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip and the kibbutzim). Maximal margin of sampling error is estimated at 4.5 percent.

Posted by David Melle
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