Israelis Want Peace Talks But Are Pessimistic

At the White House this afternoon, President Barack Obama updated British Prime Minister David Cameron on Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the peace table.

By a bit better than 2:1 margin, Israelis would like to see that happen, but only one in three think those talks would produce peace, and in fact most doubt they’ll even get started.

That’s the finding of the latest Peace Index survey by the Israel Democracy Institute of Tel Aviv University.

Sixty-nine percent of all Israelis (64% of Jews and 95% of Arabs) strongly or somewhat favor resuming peace talks. But that doesn’t translate to optimism.  Only 33% (31% Jews, 41% Arabs) believe the talks “will lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming years.”  And even smaller numbers (21% Jews, 32% Arabs) even think chances are good talks will resume.

Not surprisingly, each group blames the other side for the deadlock.

Asked what they consider the most important issues facing the Israeli government, both Arab and Jewish Israelis overwhelmingly said at the top of the list should be “closing socioeconomic gaps” (38%), well ahead of public order and violence and the Iranian threat at about 15% each, followed by reducing the deficit (13.2%), negotiations with the Palestinians (11.2%), integrating the Haredi (6.3%) and the environment (2.1%)

Other findings:

•  By a margin of 56-34, Israelis feel women should be allowed to pray at the Western Wall as they see fit. Surprisingly, more men than women supported full access for women.

•  Two thirds of Israeli Jews think the terrorist attack in Boston will make no difference on how the American public and government view Israel’s security needs.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.