Poll: Israelis ready to negotiate Hamas, but don’t feel need to talk to Abu-Mazen. High ratings for NetanyahuPosted: November 13th, 2009 | Author: noam | Filed under: In the News, Polls | Tags: abu mazen, avigdor liberman, Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, hamas, peace process, poll, Tzipi Livni | 4 Comments »
The Israeli public is fairly satisfied with his government. According to a public opinion poll published today in Haaretz, PM Benjamin Netanyahu keeps high ratings and the public generally believes that the absent of negotiations with the Palestinians is Abu-Mazen’s fault. The only surprise in the poll is a majority of Israelis willing to negotiate with Hamas.
Exactly half of the public (50 per cent) is satisfied with the Prime Ministers’ work so far, while only 40 percent are “unsatisfied” (the rest are undecided). Defense Minister Ehud Barak gets 50 percent positive approval as well. The only concern Netanyahu should have is with his Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who is viewed positively only by 38 of the public.
50 percent of the public blames Abu-Mazen for the absence of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, while 27 percent think it’s both sides’ fault. 25 percent thinks that the White House treats Netanyahu in a humiliating way (42 percent perceive the administration’s behavior as “reasonable”; only 12 see it as respectful)
If elections were held today, Netanyahu’s Likud would have risen to 33 Knesset seats (they have 27 now), while Livni’s Kadima would have grown to 29 (it has 28). Labor drops from 13 now to 6, and altogether the Right-Orthodox wing is getting stronger, to 72 seats (65 now), while the Center-Left block drops to 48.
The common wisdom is that in times of terror attacks the public moves Right, but now we had almost a year of relative quiet accompanied by an effort for renewal of negotiations, and the Right is getting stronger. This is bad news for those who believe in persuading the Israelis to join the peace effort. The public simply doesn’t want that. As I explained before, the meaning of these numbers is that without intense international pressure, no Israeli leader would be ready for concessions – since it would mean confronting a hostile public opinion. The rational choice for every Israeli leader right now- regardless of its ideology – is to oppose the peace effort.
Israelis don’t oppose negotiations in general – but they don’t feel an urgency to negotiate as well. Things are OK right now, so for all they care, they could stay this way. What’s a bit surprising is the high number – 57 percent – willing to negotiated with Hamas (on condition it renounces terrorism and recognize Israel, but as we have seen with the PLO in the 90′s, what’s important is the general willingness).
I don’t think this number can be attributed to a surprising rise in the popularity of Shaul Mofaz, but rather to the fact that unlike the Palestinians in the West Bank, the Hamas does pose a problem to Israelis. It threatens our towns, it holds a captive Israeli soldier, and it causes us diplomatic damage through its use of the Goldston report. Unlike the Palestinian Authority, Hamas is a threat, and many Israelis apparently understood the hidden lesson of Cast Lead – that it can’t be dealt with only by force. That’s the only way to explain what seems like an incredibly strange fact: Israelis are ready to negotiate with Hamas, but don’t feel any need to do so with Abu-Mazen. And while this is an understandable human tendency – most people treats what’s hurting them; only few use preventive medicine – its implications on the future of the conflict are very grim.