Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Most Recent Peace Index Findings in Ha'aretz

The results of the most recent Peace Index survey in Israel shows that support for the Gaza disengagement plan is slipping a little. I've long held the opinion that I'll believe the Gaza withdrawal when I see it (at least as long as Sharon is PM), and I think that the results of this survey give a good indication of why any Likud-led government in Israel (especially now that Labor has made it clear that differences on economic policy are going to be a major obstacle to a Labor-Likud coalition) is going to have a hard time pulling off the pulling out.
In light of the settlers' intensifying struggle to prevent a withdrawal and evacuation of settlements, we checked which of the two camps the public now perceives as more right-the one claiming that it is forbidden to give up any part of Eretz Israel for historical, religious, or security reasons, or the one claiming it is necessary to give up on the territories because otherwise there will be no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It turned out that in choosing between these two clear-cut alternatives, the majority-51 percent-chose the alternative of ceding territory as more right, on the assumption that only then is peace possible, while the minority-37 percent-see those opposing any land concession as more right (another 8 percent believe in giving up only part of the territories).

The parties for which a majority of voters favor the camp opposing concessions are the National Union (80 percent), NRP (79 percent), Shas (59 percent), and Likud (50 percent), whereas a majority of Meretz (96 percent), Labor (85 percent), and Shinui (80 percent) voters opt for the other camp.
See, the problem is not that a majority of Israelis don't favor the Gaza withdrawal. They do. Even with support "slipping a little" in the most recent survey, there is a solid majority behind the withdrawal. The problem is that 50% of Likud is going to favor the die-hard, stay-til-the-end settlers in the territories over a withdrawal. And there isn't going to be a way for people not to take sides - the settlers are going to force the issue. So the Likud leadership can't effectively function with only 50% support within its own party members. And right now, without Labor (and certainly Meretz has no intention of joining a Likud government), the only party that will tip the balances towards withdrawal is Shinui. But Shinui doesn't have enough seats by themselves, which means that Likud is going to have to include a party that tips back the other way, against withdrawal. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that Shinui will sit in a government with any of the religious parties (as they claimed they would never do in the election) and if they do go back on their election promise, they will certainly lose the support of many of the people who voted for them in the last election, making their position in a unity government weaker still. Thus, without a Labor-Likud-Shinui unity government, it will be pretty close to a political impossibility for Sharon to pull off the Gaza withdrawal. So says I, with all hopes that I am proved wrong.

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