Most Israelis say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has improved Israel’s international standing and strengthened its national defense, but has failed to reduce economic and social gaps and remains tarred by corruption suspicions, a survey has found.
Netanyahu, as of July the longest-serving Israeli prime minister in history, is widely trusted and supported on questions of international affairs and defense, the poll, conducted for the Israel Democracy Institute, found.
Fully 60 percent of respondents in the survey, released Monday, gave him a high score for “improving Israel’s international standing,” 56% for “strengthening [Israel’s] military power,” and 50.5% for “handling the Iranian challenge.”
When asked about Netanyahu’s effectiveness “in reducing the gaps between social groups,” just 22% said he was doing a good job, while a majority of 51% said he was doing poorly.
As for his “personal integrity,” only 23% gave a favorable response, and 49% an unfavorable one.
His score on the economy was mixed: 45% said he was doing a “good” job, 22% a “medium” job, and 28% a “poor” job.
There was also a lot of skepticism over his “handling of relations with the Palestinians,” the poll found, with 43% critical and just 27% in favor.
The Israel Democracy Institute’s Israel Voice Index is a long-running monthly poll of Israeli opinions on political and diplomatic issues. Once called the “peace index,” it began in 1992 to chart Israeli views of the Oslo peace process.
Most Israelis (56%) expect Netanyahu to return to the Prime Minister’s Office after the September 17 race. The numbers are dramatically affected by partisan leanings — Blue and White is split 46-43, with a slight advantage for those who believe Netanyahu could be ousted in September. Among Likud voters, the numbers are 61-28, a more than two-to-one margin believing Netanyahu will win.
While Israel’s economy has grown under his watch and his security credentials have shored up his right-wing base, Netanyahu failed to reach a coalition deal following an April 9 election. He is engaged in a tough re-election campaign while facing the possibility of being indicted for corruption in the months ahead.
The IDI survey found wide gaps between Jews and Arabs on many key questions of Israeli public life.
Most of the public, 53%, said Israel was failing to fulfill the promise of equality enshrined in its Declaration of Independence. A far higher number of Arabs (68.5%) than Jews (50%) held that view.
The poll also asked Israelis if they support the law passed by Netanyahu’s government in 2017 barring entry to supporters of anti-Israel boycotts. A large majority of Israeli Jews, 71.5%, said yes. Among Arabs, just over a third, 35%, also backed the restrictions.
The number dropped even more among those who defined themselves as left-wing, with only 26% in favor of the policy.
Israelis from across the ethnic divide agree, however, as to what the next government’s priorities should be. Asked to choose between five priorities, a huge plurality of both Jews (43%) and Arabs (47%) said it should be “closing the social gaps.”
Next in line came “negotiations with Palestinians” (Jews 15%, Arabs 18%), “the Iranian threat” (Jews 13%, Arabs 5%), “integrating ultra-Orthodox in the job market” (Jews 6%, Arabs 1%), and “fighting corruption” (Jews 9%, Arabs 8%).
The Peace Index survey compiled the responses of 652 Israeli adults between July 28 to July 30 and had a margin of error of 3.7%.
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