Poll Shows Increasing Support for Peace by Israeli 'Soft Right'

Survey of Hebrew-speaking Israelis also finds that 56 percent would vote for the prime minister if he were to establish a new party.

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Some 63 percent of Hebrew-speaking Israelis are likely to support a regional peace agreement in principle, even without knowing the full details of the agreement, according to a new poll released on Thursday.

That support increased to over three-quarters (76 percent) after the respondents were briefed on the likely details of an agreement, based on the assumed components of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's framework document and an interpretation of the Arab League Peace Initiative, which promises Israel full diplomatic and normal relations with 57 Arab and Muslim states, in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians.

In both cases, the responses represent a statistically significant increase over the findings in other surveys conducted over the past few months.

The survey was commissioned by the Israeli Peace Initiative Group and conducted on February 6, 2014 by Israeli research institute New Wave Research among a representative sample of 500 people. The survey report stresses that the sample "is not fully representative of Arabic and Russian-speakers who do not know Hebrew or of the ultra-Orthodox population."

The poll also found that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have strong public support if he were to present the public with an agreement that entailed ending the conflict with the Palestinians on the basis of the details provided. Specifically, 73% of the respondents said they would support Netanyahu and 56% of respondents would vote for him if he were to establish a new party.

Only two of the nine components of the agreement that were presented – that the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem will be part of the Arab capital and that the Holy Sites will not be under any specific sovereignty - received less than 60 percent support in the poll. The former received 49 percent support and the latter 50 percent support.

Other findings of the poll were that a majority of respondents (72 percent) thinks that Israelis are interested in reaching an agreement regarding the end of the conflict, while a similar proportion (77 percent) is convinced that the Palestinians are not interested in reaching an agreement.

A majority of Israelis (55 percent) believe that "without intervention by the Arab states and the Arab League, the Palestinians will never reach an agreement with the Israelis."

Regarding the political identification of the respondents, 28 percent described themselves as "extreme right-wing," 24 percent as "soft right," 28 percent as "centrist," and 16 percent as "soft left" or "extreme left."

Yet throughout the survey, while the "extreme right" reveals relatively low enthusiasm for a peace agreement or its specific components, the "soft right" reveals much higher positive support than the "extreme right" and a bit lower support than "centrist" voters.

The Israeli Peace Initiative Group concludes that, "on the basis of these analyses, it becomes clear that there is a significant increase in the willingness of the soft right to accept concessions and to support both and agreement and Netanyahu, should he lead this process."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with members of the Arab League Peace Initiative following their meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Paris September 8, 2013. Credit: Reuters

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