Photo Credit: Rahim Khatib /Flash90
Arab rioters near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip.

An overwhelming majority of the Jewish public (68%) agrees with the claim that the Arab demonstrations at the Gaza border are more a result of Hamas’s planning, while only 8% see them as resulting more from the Gaza residents’ despair over the living conditions there, according to the May Peace Index survey.

Nineteen percent think the two explanations are equally valid. A segmentation of the Jewish sample by political camps reveals that on the right, 78% view the demonstrations as Hamas’s doing, as do 64% of those who situated themselves in the center. However, only 37% of those who defined themselves as left-wing held that opinion.

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Among the Arabs, the majority (62%) believes the demonstrations are a result of the residents’ despair over their living conditions. Only 2% regard them as Hamas’s doing while 29% see both explanations as equally valid.

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. This month’s survey was conducted by telephone and internet on May 28-30, 2018, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of the adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%.

It comes as no surprise that, despite the large number of casualties among the Gaza Arabs, a clear majority of the Jewish public (62%) thinks the IDF’s handling of these demonstrations was appropriate in terms of the force that was used, and 28% believe the IDF actually used too little force.

A segmentation by political camps showed that in all three of them—right, center, and left—the majority’s assessment was that appropriate force was used. On the left, however, about one-fourth thought the force was excessive, while on the right about one-third responded that too little was used.

Among the Arabs, a large majority (92%) see the force that the IDF used against these demonstrations as excessive.

The survey asked: are the war drums beating? Just as it was a year ago on the same question, the Jewish public is almost split between those who see high chances that Israel will be involved in an all-out war with Iran or some other military actor in the coming year (43%) and those who regard the chances of this as low (46%). In the Arab public the majority (52.5%) views the chances of an all-out war with Iran in the foreseeable future as low.

Finally, on what basis will Israelis vote come next elections?

The survey asked: “If elections are held soon, which among the following is the main factor that will determine which party you vote for?”

Out of a list of five factors, it turns out that the first one in importance for the Jewish public is the party’s ideology (37.5%); the next, at a considerable distance, is the party’s leader (28%).

Very far behind these two come, in descending order, the following factors: the party’s list of candidates for the next Knesset (13.5%), loyalty to the party (7%), and the party’s chances to form the next government (7%). An inquiry according to voting revealed that among voters for (in descending order) Habayit Hayehudi, Meretz, Torah Judaism, and the Zionist Union, ideology is more salient, while among (in descending order) voters for Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Likud, the leader is more important.

In the Arab public, too, the party’s ideology is in first place (39%) while the party’s list of candidates is in second place (23%).

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