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Against the backdrop of the controversy surrounding the currently-frozen judicial reforms, a survey was conducted last week by Direct Polls, examining the degree of public trust in state institutions - the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the President, and the IDF. Participants were asked, "How much trust do you have in the members of the Knesset whom you elected," and 77% expressed a 'medium to high degree of trust' compared to only 21% who indicated they had low to non-existent trust in their elected representatives in the Knesset.

Over 85% of people who voted for the haredi parties or the Likud and Religious Zionism/Otzma Yehudit expressed confidence in their elected officials. National Unity party, Yesh Atid, and Yisrael Beytenu voters expressed confidence at a level of 70 to 80 percent. The lowest level of confidence (below 65%) was registered among citizens who voted for the Arab parties, the Labor Party and Meretz, of whom only 45% of voters expressed trust in the MKs for whom they voted.

The survey also showed that the Supreme Court is trusted by only 50% of the public: Likud voters expressed only 16% trust in the judiciary, and voters for the Religious Zionist and haredi parties less than 5%, compared to National Unity, Labor, Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu parties with over 80% trust.

The institution that receives the highest level of trust is the IDF, with 92% of the public's trust. However, 31% of the respondents stated that their trust in the IDF had been damaged "following the threats of refusal to serve and other protest actions" against the judicial reforms. On average, 61% of the voters of the right-wing parties stated that they experienced a violation of the trust they place in the IDF by the refusals to serve; only 5% of people who voted for left-wing parties expressed this sense of violation of trust. “Under the guise of objections to judicial reform and claims of protecting Israel’s democracy, the leaders of the protests – among them former Chiefs of General Staff – crossed every red line and caused dramatic damage to the public's trust in the IDF, whose status as the "people's army" was severely damaged by threats of refusal to serve," says Meir Deutsch, CEO of the Regavim Movement.

Regarding public trust in Israel’s president, Likud, Religious Zionism, and haredi party voters expressed less than 40% trust, compared to National Unity, Yesh Atid, and Labor voters, who expressed over 70% trust. These findings are similar to the results of the survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute but point to a trend of growing polarization of positions between the camps.

However, on the question of public trust in the Knesset, there is a fundamental contradiction between the Israeli Democracy Institute's 'Israel Democracy Index' data for 2022, in which the results for the question of trust in the Knesset indicated only 14% having moderate to high trust compared to 83% low to non-existent trust. The 'Trust Index' data reflected in the Regavim - Direct Polls survey indicate that 77% answered 'medium to high trust,’ compared to only 21% who indicated a low to non-existent level of trust.

Regavim's spokesperson stated in expanation that the gap stems from the difference in the wording of the question. The Israel Democracy Institute’s survey asked about the "level of trust in the Knesset" while the "Regavim-Direct Polls Trust Index" survey examines trust "in the members of the Knesset you elected."

"It is clear to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of politics that there is no expectation that Likud voters will trust the Knesset members of left-wing parties, and vice versa; they will trust the elected representatives they chose as their messengers," says Meir Deutsch, CEO of the Regavim Movement. "The public chooses those who are supposed to represent their values in parliament. They choose representatives who are given a mandate to impact decisions that touch upon essential questions and core issues on Israel’s public agenda. They are expected to work toward agreements, to make concessions while maintaining balance. The goal of elections is that elected officials will bring the will of every person who voted for them to expression in the best possible way. This is democracy."

According to Deutsch, the Israel Democracy Institute's question regarding the public's trust in the Knesset creates a false representation of a lack of trust in the members of the Knesset, while at the same time creating a false impression that the public favors the judges of the Supreme Court. The purposefully phrased Israel Democracy Institute survey attempts to justify weakening the powers of the legislative branch, the Knesset, in favor of ceding excessive powers to the judicial branch. "The relevant question is the level of the public's trust in the members of the Knesset chosen by them, and the results prove that an absolute majority of the public trusts its elected officials - a fact that points to a very healthy reality in a parliamentary democracy."

The new survey was conducted by Shlomo Filber and Zuriel Sharon through Direct Polls Ltd. for the Regavim Movement on 7 May 2023, using a combined digital system and panel system, among a sample of 540 adults (+18) reflecting a sample of the general population in Israel (statistical sampling error 4.3 %+- with a probability of 95%).