Know More About Palestine

Monday March 16, 2009 4:03 PM (EST+7)

Public opinion in Israel has acted as a domestic imperative on policymaking, especially in the context of the peace process and two-state solution. To understand the importance of public opinion in formulating foreign policy in Israel, it is useful to study Robert Putnamzzz*zs two level game metaphor. According to this model, "two heads of government negotiate an agreement at the international table that must be ratified by the respective constituencies. Simultaneously, separate bargaining processes take place among the constituents of the respective sides and between each constituency and its respective leader." In the context of this framework, public opinion is an important indicator in both Israeli and Palestinian domestic politics. 

In Israel where foreign policy goals tend to change dramatically under different leaderships, public opinion is an indispensible tool in swaying policy decisions.


Divisive politics, rise of a dominant conservative bloc, corruption and weak coalitions are some of the leading themes that have dominated the Israeli political scene. Failure to establish a coalition government in early 2009 by Tzipi Livni of the Kadima party led to re-elections. The second round also failed to reach a clear majority. Weeks of negotiations between the winning Likud party and closely following opponents finally led to a successful coalition in the Knesset on March 24, 2009. The government would be dominated by a conservative bloc consisting of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu. 

During this period of negotiations Haaretz public opinion polls suggested that Israeli voters had little faith in a future coalition government regardless of the combination of political parties. The peace process had been largely ingnored during the election campaign. Netanyahu whose party won majority seats started advocating "economic peace" with Palestinians as an alternative to a comprehensive peace process. His initiatives were received with skepticim, both by opposition parties supporting a two-state solution and Israeli citizens who favored the same.

Public opinion polls conducted among Palestinians showed similar sense of disillusionment towards their leadership.


A Haaretz-Dialogue opinion poll published on January 1, 2009 revealed that a majority of Israelis supported Israelzzz*zs 22 day offensive in Gaza. The poll indicated that Israeli publis was most concerned with safety of the soldiers, especially those deployed to the ground troops. While 52 percent of Israeli participants supported continuation of air strikes in the Gaza strips, only 20 percent supported the expansion of the operation to a ground assault. The overall results showed clear support of use of force. Protection of Israeli soldiers was heavily prioritized against Israeli militaryzzz*zs missions of eradicating Hamas’ infrastructure and personnel. 

The Harry S. Truman Institute for Advancement of Peace, a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative, conducted a similar poll relating to the role of violence in Israeli and Palestinian society. The pollzzz*zs specific aim was to gather opinion of both sides on the peace process and support of violence as means of achieving stability. 66 percent of Israeli participants believed that the chances for a peace settlement and establishment of a Palestinian state were weak or non-existent while 31 percent believed that the chances were fair or high. It is interesting to note that similar disenchantment was reflected among the Palestinian participants with 68 percent of them reacting negatively to the prospect of a Palestinian state in the next five years and only 30 percent showing optimism.







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