A public opinion survey conducted by Mitvim, the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, finds that 46 percent of Israelis believe that people who do not pose any security threat should be allowed into the country, while 41 percent believe that anyone calling for a boycott of Israel or the settlements should be denied entry. Moreover, 41 percent of respondents believe that the nation-state law will harm Israel’s foreign relations, in contrast to 12 percent who believe the law will improve them.
The survey was conducted in September by the Rafi Smith Institute, together with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, sampling a representative adult population of 700 men and women, both Arab and Jewish. The sampling error was 3.5 percent. The objective was to map public positions regarding Israel’s foreign relations and its conducting of foreign policies, as well as relations with Palestinians and the Arab world. Regarding U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace initiative, 21 percent believe it will bring peace closer, 29 percent believe it makes it more distant. 30 percent believe it has no impact on the chances for peace. 54 percent attributed great or moderate importance to the moving of additional embassies to Jerusalem, while 37 percent think it has little importance.
47 percent of respondents believe that when making decisions, the government should take into account to a very large or quite large degree the possible impact on Diaspora Jews. 38 percent believe this factor should only be of minor consideration or not considered at all.
On the Palestinian question, 49 percent of respondents believe that a significant breakthrough with Arab states can take place even without progress in the peace process with the Palestinians, while 33 percent believe that only progress on this front will enable better relations with Arab states. Most respondents are interested in Israel engaging in peace negotiations with the Palestinians (50 percent in favor, 36 percent against), but oppose negotiations with Hamas over an arrangement in Gaza (32 percent in favor, 51 percent against). 43 percent believe Israel should improve life in the Gaza Strip, with 38 percent preferring that Israel increase economic pressure on Gaza. If relations were normalized, Israelis would most like to visit the UAE (13 percent) and Egypt (12 percent).
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Respondents ranked Russia as the most important country for Israel at this time, after the United States. Following were Germany, Britain, China, France, Egypt, Jordan and India. Respondents were split regarding the question of whether Israel should give preference to democratic states (40 percent) or whether the type of regime was irrelevant (42 percent). Most respondents believe that the European Union is more of an enemy (55 percent) than a friend (18 percent).
Regarding Israel’s foreign relations, there was an increase in comparison to a survey in 2015. In response to a question about “foreign policy topics which need to be promoted with the highest priority over the next six months,” relations with moderate Arab states were ranked first, along with the peace process. Following these, in descending order, were the struggle against de-legitimization and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, relations with Russia, threats by Iran, relations with the U.S. and relations with the European Union. In last place were relations with Asia and Africa, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been touting in recent years.
58 percent of respondents believe that the absence of a full-time foreign minister has a negative impact on Israel’s foreign relations, while 5 percent said it has a positive impact and 21 percent think there is no impact whatsoever. In response to an open question as to whom respondents would like to see as foreign minister, 42 percent had no opinion, whereas those with some idea ranked their suggestions as follows (in descending order): Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid (10 percent each); Naftali Bennett (6 percent), Tzipi Livni and Avigdor Lieberman (5 percent each).