Poll: Israelis divided on Netanyahu’s ‘Arab droves’ comment

Uriel Heilman

(JTA) – Jewish Israelis are divided when it comes to how they feel about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial Election Day call to counter the votes of “Arabs voting in droves.”

Forty-eight percent of those polled this week by the Israel Democracy Institute said they thought criticism of the prime minister’s words – for which he apologized after Election Day – was justified, while 47 percent said the criticism was unjustified.

Broken down by voter affiliation, only 1 percent of voters for Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party felt the criticism was justified, compared to 96 percent for Meretz voters and 76 percent for Zionist Union voters.

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Among Jewish Israelis respondents, 42 percent of those polled assessed U.S.-Israel relations as poor, 37 percent gave them a middling grade and 17 percent said they were good. By contrast, 60 percent of Arab-Israeli respondents said U.S.-Israel ties were good.

About 53 percent of Jewish Israelis posed said there was a good chance that the United States and the West would try to impose a two-state solution on Israel in the near future, with 41 saying there was only a slim chance. At the same time, 53 percent said Israel would be able to withstand such outside pressure, compared with 37 percent who said Israel would not be able to withstand the pressure.

Nearly half of those polled said they believed a third Palestinian intifada was likely in the offing, compared to 40 percent who said the chances of that were slim.

The telephone survey of 600 Israeli respondents over age 18 was carried out Sunday and Monday.