Poll: Most Israelis oppose 'cash-for-calm' policy

Vast majority of Israeli voters disagree with Netanyahu’s decision to allow Qatari funds to enter Gaza.

Elad Benari ,

Hamas employee after receiving her salary paid by Qatar
Hamas employee after receiving her salary paid by Qatar

A vast majority of Israeli voters do not approve of the cash-for-calm policy with the Gaza Strip and disagree with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to continue allowing Qatari funds to enter Gaza, according to an i24NEWS-Israel Hayom poll published on Thursday.

Over half (52%) of Israelis said they did not support the decision to allow Qatar to inject Hamas-run Gaza with funding, compared to 28% of respondents who expressed support for the payments and another 20% who did not know.

Under an informal agreement struck in November, Israel allowed two installments of $15 million in Qatari money to enter Gaza.

The money was to have been distributed in six installments, but Israel postponed the third last month following the shooting of an IDF soldier by a terrorist from Gaza.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Security Cabinet subsequently approved the transfer of the third installment, but Hamas refused to accept the money “in response to the occupation policy”.

Critics of the agreement within Israel -- among them many candidates currently campaigning for Israel's April 9 election -- warn that the funds will be used to support Hamas members and terror activities directed at Israel and will do little to nothing to stop violent escalations on the border.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the greatest opposition to the payments came among right-wing voters.

83% of respondents who intended to vote for the Union of Right-Wing parties (made up of the Jewish Home, National Union and Otzma Yehudit parties), 84% of those intending to cast ballots for the New Right party, and 90% of those planning to vote for Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut do not agree with the policy.

Likud voters, however, were more divided. 30% of respondents who intend to vote for the Netanyahu-led party expressed support for the policy compared to 55% who do not.

There was less support for the payments (26%) among respondents who intend to vote for the Blue and White alliance, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid.

The greatest support for the policy came from the left side of the political spectrum and from Arab parties. Respondents who intended to vote for Meretz overwhelmingly supported the payments (64%) compared with only 21% who do not.

While part of the funds were originally intended to pay salaries of Hamas employees, this was stopped after intense backlash in Israel.

The Qatari envoy to Gaza recently announced his country will no longer fund salaries of Hamas employees in Gaza and would instead donate the remaining $60 million in aid mostly through United Nations programs.

Earlier this week, tens of thousands of Arabs in Gaza began receiving $100 payouts from Qatar after an agreement was reached between Israel, the United Nations, and Qatar over how the cash would be doled out.