Only about one-third of Israelis think Israel has benefited from the recent Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, according to an extensive survey conducted by Dahaf Institute for Saban Center for Policy.
40 percent of respondents said that they felt Israel “won the combat in the Gaza Strip.” 45 percent said neither Israel nor Hamas carried the more than week-long conflict, and 11 percent said Hamas came off victorious.
Nonetheless, only 27% of Israelis believe that the conflict between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza will end for good through a major military campaign or through reoccupation of Gaza, while 29% say it will end only through a final status agreement with the Palestinians. 40% say fighting will simply not end.
Asked if the situation in Israel in terms of security is better off now than before the Gaza offensive, 38 perecent of Israelis say that Israel’s strategic situation remained the same as it was before the Gaza escalation, while 36% say it improved and 21% say it worsened.
Since winning reelection and expressing strong support for Israel on the international platform, views of Obama are now quite positive, especially among Jewish Israelis, with 62 percent expressing favorable views—up 8 points from the previous year. Asked which world leader they most admire, Obama is the most frequently cited by Israeli Jews — up dramatically from the previous year. More Israelis see American public support for Israeli security interests as having increased than see it as having decreased over the last few years, and more are optimistic than are pessimistic about U.S.-Israel relations in Obama’s second term.
Among Jewish Israelis, President Obama is the most frequently mentioned as “most admired world leader” than any other leader—slightly ahead of Germany’s Angela Merkel who has led in the past two years. Nationally, 60% of Israelis have a positive view of Obama.
Over 60% of Israelis feel that Prime Minister Netanyahu favored Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the American presidential elections. Yet, a similar number say that Netanyahu’s relationship with Obama will not affect the Israeli-American relationship.
Slightly more Israeli Jews think that American public support for Israel generally has deceased than increased; yet more Israelis, both Arabs and Jews, feel that American support for “Israeli security needs” has increased than decreased.
With regard to national security and Iran, Israelis continue to show a pessimistic view in regard to the likelihood that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. Asked “How likely do you think it is that Iran will eventually develop nuclear weapons?” 51% of Israelis called it very likely, with another 36% calling it somewhat likely (not very likely, 7%; not at all likely, 3%).
This issue was presented to respondents in three separate questions: one about an initial agreement to a system of full international inspections, including Iran and Israel; second, about a commitment by all countries in the region to not have nuclear weapons; and third, a question that summarized the whole plan. All questions received majority support (55-58%). For the summary question, support among Israeli Jews was 58%, down slightly from 64% in 2011.
Israelis are divided on a possible UN deal whereby Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium at low levels, provided that it allows intrusive inspections to ensure that it is not developing nuclear weapons. Respondents were reminded that “there is some talk about possible negotiations between Iran and the United States about Iran’s nuclear program” and asked to consider the following proposal:
If Iran were to allow UN inspectors permanent and full access throughout Iran, to make sure it is not developing nuclear weapons, do you think Iran should or should not be allowed to produce low level nuclear fuel that could only be used for producing electricity?
Forty-six percent of Israelis said they would approve such a deal, while 47 percent said they would not. However there has been an eight point drop over the last year among Israeli Jews who are pessimistic that such a deal could be achieved, with the number saying it is very likely dropping from 62% in 2011 to 54 percent today.
Reminded that “there is talk of a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities” and asked whether they would support or oppose it, half of Israelis overall (50%) oppose such an attack while 38% support it. Among Israeli Jews opposition has risen from 41% a year ago to 46% today, with 41% now supporting it.
But when asked explicitly in another question about whether to proceed with an attack unilaterally, only with U.S. support, or not at all, only one in five Israelis favor proceeding without America’s support. Among Israeli Jews, those ready to proceed without U.S. support has dropped from 22% a year ago to 18% now.
Given the importance to Israelis of not acting alone, it is interesting to note Israelis’ expectations of how the United States would react if Israel did go ahead with a strike on Iranian facilities. Only one in four Israelis (24%) think the U.S. “would join the war on Israel’s behalf.” Almost half (46%) think the U.S. “would support Israel diplomatically, but not provide military assistance.” Another quarter thought the United States would either stay neutral (14%) or “would punish Israel by withdrawing its current support” (11%). Among Israeli Jews, it should be noted that those expecting the U.S. would join Israel in fighting have dropped from 28 to 21% over the last year.
Only one in four Israelis believe that a military attack would delay Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons by more than five years.
But there has been some increase among Israeli Jews who believe that it would have some effect. The number of Israelis who think a strike would create a one-to-two year delay in Iran’s capabilities has risen from 9 to 19%; those who would expect a three-to-five year delay have also risen slightly, from 22% to 26%. However, those who would expect a delay longer than five years were stable at 23%. Another fifth thought a strike would either have no effect (8%, down from 19%) or would accelerate Iran’s nuclear program (11%, unchanged).