Anti-Withdrawal Election Campaign Could Net Undecided Votes

A poll by a leading Israeli agency shows a majority of Israelis oppose more withdrawals under the current circumstances and reveals that a third of the country is still unsure who to vote for.

Ezra HaLevi , | updated: 14:56

The poll shows that the Israeli public, including a large percentage of Kadima voters, does not support additional significant unilateral withdrawals if it becomes clear that the PA will not fight terror and that US President George W. Bush's Road Map Plan is therefore impossible to implement.

The Maagar Mochot poll, carried out by Professor Yitzchak Katz this past Sunday and Monday, also revealed a startling public-opinion trend glossed over by other pollsters in recent months – that the nation is not convinced that Kadima or Likud deserve their vote. Analysts say that this leaves room for the Nationalists and Religious Zionists to attract votes on an anti-withdrawal platform – one-third of the population refused to reveal who they would vote for, or otherwise said they were undecided when questioned by pollsters.

The survey also demonstrates that the lack of support for further withdrawals in the current political climate is even present within Kadima voters, with 46% unwilling to vocalize support for such withdrawals and 32% of self-proclaimed Kadima voters denying that a vote for Kadima is a vote for further retreats. These results illustrate the confusing message of the Kadima Party, whose leaders, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz both advocate further unilateral withdrawals in response to the victory of Hamas. Kadima's spokespeople and election campaign, however, consists of ambiguous statements and pictures of comatose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The poll was commissioned by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and consisted of a representative sample of 624 adult Israelis, including Israeli Arabs, surveyed over the telephone. The margin of error is 4.5 percentage points.

Other notable results of the data are:
* Over 40 Knesset mandates are to be decided upon by the 34% of those surveyed who have either not yet decided what party they will vote for (23%) or refuse to reply (11%). Of those undecided, 19% report being certain that they will vote in the elections, rendering polls effectively useless in projecting the actual composition of the 17th Knesset.

* Only 21% of those polled said they have decided to choose Kadima. This leaves the party with only 25 sure Knesset seats.

The poll also demonstrates how critical the wording of questions is in determining the results. The text of the actual questions is often left out of articles claiming popular support for withdrawal:
*Asked, "Are you for or against significant unilateral withdrawals from Judea and Samaria if after the elections it becomes clear that the PA doesn't fight terror and not possible to advance in accordance with the Road Map?" only 35% said they were for an 50% were against, with 15% answering "other."

*Support declined further when the question was phrased: "Are you for or against significant unilateral withdrawals from Judea and Samaria even if there is a reasonable chance that a threatening sovereign Palestinian state enjoying the support of the Arab world will be established in the evacuated area?" Just 32% were for, while 56% were opposed, with 12% answering "other."

* Adding even harsher imagery to the language of the question led to results similar to the Likud referendum prior to the Gaza withdrawal, which roundly rejected the concept of unilateral withdrawal. Asked, "Are you for or against significant unilateral withdrawals from Judea and Samaria even if Kassams will fall in the center of the country, without an effective response, as they are now falling in Sderot?" only 25% were in favor while 64% were opposed and 11% answered "other."