Globes-Smith Survey: Sharon's popularity still high
by Eliyahu Hassin
Published by Israel's Business Arena
Much has occurred in Israel in the month since the "Globes" survey examined public opinion on questions concerning the violent confrontation with the Palestinians. A brief summary: the bloody terrorist attack at the Dolphinarium, the massive US involvement, Arafat's ceasefire announcement, Israel's policy of restraint, the CIA chief's shuttle diplomacy, and the Tenet plan. All this was accompanied by unceasing Palestinian terrorism at varying levels of intensity.
While the survey itself was being conducted, the headlines featured Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's trip to the US to meet President George Bush, part of the increasing US effort to calm the situation after the Mitchell Report and the Tenet plan were proposed, and before the upcoming visit by US Secretary of State Colin Powell. Against this background, the survey began with the question:
Will the US effort succeed in halting the violent confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians and renewing negotiations between them?
A gloomy picture, to say the least.
What kind of agreement can be reached between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming years?
For the sake of comparison, in the first stage of the Intifada at the end of October 2000, the corresponding results were:
In terms of a sample survey, the results are very similar. Most respondents had already given up on a real agreement with the Palestinians in the initial weeks of the Intifada, and the proportion has remained about the same since.
Some say that in the situation created in recent months, war between Israel and the Palestinians is inevitable. What do you think?
The largest group, almost half of the respondents, feels that full-scale war with the Palestinians cannot be prevented.
How is the Sharon government handling the confrontation with the Palestinians -- too harshly, too softly, or correctly?
A month ago, the responses were distributed as follows:
How is Ariel Sharon performing as Prime Minister?
A month ago, the distribution was:
Despite the gloomy outlook, or perhaps because of it, Sharon's public standing has strengthened. Two thirds of the population rate his performance positively.
This appreciation has not reached the level of approval Sharon received when the government was formed, however, and does not constitute a record for Israeli prime ministers. Golda Meir at the peak of her popularity and Shimon Peres during his tenure as prime minister in the 1980s unity government had higher ratings.
It is interesting to note that there is no particular difference between those who voted for Sharon and those who voted for Barak in the last elections.
In the next question, the survey directly examined public opinion on the general mood in Israel.
According to what you see and hear among your friends and acquaintances, what is the general mood in Israel today?
The general mood is gloomy, if not very gloomy. For every respondent saying the mood is good (mostly in the lukewarm "fairly good" category), four said it was poor (a third of those said it was very poor).
Some say that this difficult period is the right time to implement necessary economic and social changes. Do you agree or disagree?
At least in principle, a decisive majority (4:1) of the population believes that necessary economic and social changes should not delayed due to the security and political situation; on the contrary, they believe this is the time to implement changes in these areas.
The survey was conducted under the supervision of Hanoch and Rafi Smith on June 24-25. It included a telephone sample of 502 respondents, representing the entire adult population of Israel. The maximum sample error was 4.4%.
Published by Israel's Business Arena on June 28, 2001
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