Globes-Smith Survey: Sharon's popularity still high

by Eliyahu Hassin

Published by Israel's Business Arena
June 28, 2001

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?

Will succeed 18%
Will not succeed 72%
No pinion/response 10%

A gloomy picture, to say the least.

What kind of agreement can be reached between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming years?

A full peace agreement putting an end to the conflict 10%
A broad interim agreement, but not a full peace treaty 33%
No real agreement acceptable to both sides can be reached 55%
No response 2%.

For the sake of comparison, in the first stage of the Intifada at the end of October 2000, the corresponding results were:

Full peace 11%
Interim agreement 28%
No agreement 58%

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?

War is inevitable or almost inevitable 46%
War can be prevented but with difficulty and great effort 35%
War can definitely be prevented 16%
No response 3%

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?

Too harshly 6%
Too softly 42%
Correctly 47%
No response 5%

A month ago, the responses were distributed as follows:

Too harshly 20%
Too softly 40%
Correctly 31%

How is Ariel Sharon performing as Prime Minister?

Very well 19%
Fairly well 48%
Not so well 25%
Very poorly 6%
No response 2%


Positive rating 67%
Negative rating 31%

A month ago, the distribution was:

Positive rating 55%
Negative rating 41%

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.

Sharon voters:

Positive rating 71%
Negative rating 27%

Barak voters:

Positive rating 63%
Negative rating 35%

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?

Very good 2%
Fairly good 18%
Poor 53%
Very poor 25%
No response 2%

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?

Agree 71%
Disagree 18%
No response 11%

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

[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, the following material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]

Intifada Page