Last week, J Street commissioned a new poll of Israeli public opinion, conducted by a respected Israeli pollster. The poll posed a series of questions about Israelis’ views on the Obama administration and US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.
We wanted to explain for you why we felt it was important for us to launch this poll right now, and to lift up some of its topline findings.
Following the flurry of hotly debated activity by the US and the UN in the past month, we wanted to take the political temperature of Israelis on key questions related to the conflict and the peace process. Secretary Kerry’s speech, which laid down an important marker for the Obama administration’s eight years of work to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, followed close on the heels of the administration’s abstention on UNSC Resolution 2334. Both the resolution and the speech have received a great deal of attention in US politics, in the region and around the world.
Much of this attention matched the coverage of our issue that we’ve seen over the past eight years. Some have pinned tensions between the US and Israeli governments to the contentious personal relationship between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama. Others have claimed that there is broad-based opposition to US policy, and to the two-state solution in general, amongst the Israeli public.
Now that the smoke has cleared a little, we felt it was important to poll Israelis themselves to try and assess where they stand, and what they really think of the two-state solution and the principles for an agreement presented by Secretary Kerry. The poll sought to determine the level of support for the content of these policies among the Israeli public.
The poll was conducted between January 8-9, 2017. The poll included 500 adults, both Jewish and non-Jewish, that comprise a representative sample of adults in Israel. The margin of error is 4.5 percent.
When the poll was conducted, the Kerry principles were translated into Hebrew and, after reading them out to participants, the pollsters asked for their opinion on them. Although many of the Obama administration’s critics have portrayed the Kerry principles as somehow contrary to Israel’s interests, the majority of Israelis (58 percent) support the substance of the principles that the Secretary of State laid out. Notably, that majority held not just among the parties of the center-left, but also the center and center-right.
Support for a two-state solution also remains strong — at 68 percent. Even a majority of Likud voters (62 percent) and, remarkably, 40 percent of Jewish Home supporters favor a two-state solution. Overall support for a two-state solution is up from a 2014 J Street poll, which showed 62 percent support.
So what can we conclude? Despite the rhetoric and policies of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, the Israeli public has not given up on the two-state solution. It’s vital to keep that in mind as we contend with two-state skeptics and opponents, including many in the Trump administration — like David Friedman, the nominee to serve as ambassador for Israel — who are aligned with the most extreme elements of the settlement movement. They want us to believe that our ideas are somehow irrelevant and out-of-touch — and they could not be more wrong.
This poll should give us confidence as we enter the tough fights ahead that J Street not only represents the mainstream views of American Jewry, but champions positions that are supported by the majority of Israelis as well.
VP of Communications, J Street