Poll: Most Israelis Don't Trust Kerry

Israeli Jews and Arabs alike believe that Kerry isn't taking Israel's security into account, finds monthly Peace Index poll.

Elad Benari,

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

Most Israelis do not trust U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace plan and do not believe that he is taking Israel’s security into account, a new poll released Tuesday finds.

According to the monthly Peace Index poll conducted for the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, this applies to both Israeli Jews and Arabs.

The poll found that two-thirds of the Jewish public does not trust Kerry’s framework agreement to take account of Israel’s security as a crucial factor. Among the Arab public, 53% said that Kerry is not putting Israel’s security interest first, with 32%  believing the opposite.

The poll further found that a large majority - 74% - of the Jewish public in Israel is convinced that the Americans  are exerting more pressure on Israel than on the Palestinian Authority to accept the secretary of state’s framework agreement, even though its details are not yet clear.

Only 5% thought the PA is being pressured more while 12% said they believed the two sides are being evenly pressured. Among Israeli Arabs, 29% said the pressure exerted on the PA was  stronger, 25% though so regarding Israel, and 25.5% said they view the pressures on the two sides as similar.

The data show that both populations cast doubt on Kerry’s motives in trying to reach a framework agreement.

Among the Jewish population, 61% think he is mainly motivated by a personal interest in “going down in  history as a statesman who succeeded where others before him failed,” while only 22% hold the view that his efforts reflect honest concern for the future of the two sides.

Among the Arabs, 56% mainly attributed a personal motive to Kerry’s activity while 16% say the good of the two sides is what matters to him.

The poll was conducted by telephone on March 3-4, 2014, and included 603 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of the entire population aged 18 and over.

It comes as Kerry continues to prepare a framework agreement for the two sides,  of which little has been made public with the exception of a report by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times.

According to Friedman, the plan will call for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria based on the 1949 lines, with "unprecedented" security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley.

The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Arab side for this with Israeli territory.

Kerry has remained optimistic about the talks throughout the process, stating in December that a deal was "close" despite ongoing complications and dispute over the terms from both the PA and Israel.  He recently said that the peace talks would need to continue beyond the April deadline that was set, though the PA was quick to reject that possibility.

The results of the poll indicate that Kerry, who has worked very hard to appeal directly to the Israeli public over his push for peace, has yet to convince Israelis that his efforts will bear fruit.

Kerry’s efforts included a recent television interview on journalist Ilana Dayan’s popular “Uvda” program on Channel 2, in which he hinted that Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria may not be evicted from their homes when an agreement is signed.

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