Israel's Eldest Statesmen, Peres, Is Also Its Most Popular

Out of 16 senior public figures, Peres was by far the favorite in a poll conducted for Haaretz; Defense Minister Ehud Barak was the least popular.

Two months before his 88th birthday, President Shimon Peres is the most popular figure in Israel. Out of 16 senior public figures, Peres was by far the favorite in a poll conducted for Haaretz by Dialog. Some 72% of Israelis polled were satisfied with Peres' performance as president, after four years in the post, as opposed to only 20% who said they were dissatisfied.

The survey included figures from politics, law, business, defense and other areas. An almost identical poll was conducted for Haaretz a year ago, and the full results will appear in tomorrow's Week's End section

Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres
Tomer Appelbaum.

At the bottom of the list, the least popular, was Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Only 30% of those polled said they were satisfied with his performance, and 63% said they were dissatisfied. Despite Barak's long history as defense minster and his name as a military hero, a large majority of Israelis were turned off by him. Even though the question asked concerned his performance as defense minister, it is clear that most respondents related to his controversial image and actions as a politician.

Support for Peres came from all groups: religious and non-religious, ultra-Orthodox and immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Only among the Arab population was the satisfaction rating for Peres lower, despite his work for peace. A majority of Israel's Arab citizens said they were dissatisfied with the president.

One official who received relatively solid support was State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, with a 57% satisfaction rating, compared to a 25% dissatisfaction rating.

Professor Camille Fuchs of Tel Aviv University supervised the poll.