Most Jewish Israelis say Trump will allow settlement growth
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Most Jewish Israelis say Trump will allow settlement growth

Survey shows 54% of Israelis disapprove of Netanyahu’s performance; 51% satisfied with job done by Defense Minister Liberman

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC on February 15, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)
US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC on February 15, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Jewish Israelis are largely unfazed by US President Donald Trump’s recent request that their government “hold off” on settlement building, as 55 percent still believe he will not oppose construction beyond the Green Line, according to a recent poll.

The monthly Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University Peace Index found that a majority (61%) of the Jewish public does not believe that Trump will try to impose a peace accord on Israel that opposes its key positions.

The figures come less than a month after the president told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint press conference in Washington that he preferred a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “that both parties like” and asked Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

A majority of Jewish and Arab Israelis were also pleased with the first meeting between the US and Israeli leaders, with 62% and 64%, respectively, deeming it to have been successful.

PM Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump at the White House, February 15, 2017 (Avi Ohayun/GPO)
PM Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump at the White House, February 15, 2017 (Avi Ohayun/GPO)

Respondents were also asked about a February Haaretz report about a secret peace summit that took place in Aqaba, Jordan last spring. Netanyahu was in attendance along with the leaders of the US, Egypt, and Jordan. An agreement was proposed whereby Arab countries would recognize Israel as a Jewish state in return for a renewal of negotiations to establish a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with land swaps.

While views of Netanyahu’s rejection of the plan fell broadly along political lines, a majority of Jewish Israelis (57%) supported the prime minister’s decision. A majority of Arab Israelis disapproved of his dismissal of the reported offer.

The survey indicated that a majority of Israelis remain opposed to unilateral moves in light of the current deadlock between the parties. Fifty-four percent responded negatively to the proposal of such actions.

When divided by political identification, 66% of right-wing respondents, many of whom traditionally oppose the two-state solution, disapproved of unilateral measures to solve the conflict.

Overall, 54% of Israelis ranked Netanyahu’s performance as prime minister as either “not very good” or “not good at all.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the state funeral of late Israeli president Shimon Peres, at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, September 30, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the state funeral of late Israeli president Shimon Peres, at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, September 30, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman were the only security-related officials to receive positive evaluations on their work, with 64% and 51% of Israelis indicating their satisfaction, respectively.

With the Elor Azaria sentencing fresh in their minds, Jewish respondents were asked to evaluate the ruling against the IDF soldier, who shot and killed a wounded Palestinian attacker last March in Hebron. Israelis were very divided on their views of the 18-month prison sentence Azaria received for the manslaughter conviction. Twenty-six percent said they considered the punishment appropriate, 33% felt it was too harsh, 15% thought it was too light, and 18% thought that the trial should not have been held in the first place.

However, Jewish public sentiment converged on the question of a pardon for Azaria, with 68% supporting such a measure.

While a majority of Israeli respondents indicated satisfaction with the current state of the country’s security, health and economic conditions, the same could not be said for foreign relations, education, and social responsibility. Nearly 80% of Israelis ranked their government’s responsibility and caring for the less fortunate as “not so good” or “not good at all.”

The Midgam Research Institute conducted the survey among 600 respondents, with a margin of error of 4.1%.

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