Jewish Journal


Israelis do not – do not! - trust the US to mediate negotiations with Hamas

by Shmuel Rosner

August 7, 2014 | 3:26 am

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv July 23, 2014. Photo by Reuters


Pollster Menachem Lazar of Panels Politics predicted in our conversation yesterday that Israelis would be inclined to trust Egypt more than they trust the US when it comes to the cease fire talks. He just didn't predict how wide the trust-gap would be. Thus, when he saw the results of his survey this morning, he quickly called me to share his findings.

The question was simple: do you trust the US\Egypt in the negotiations with Hamas? The low level of trust Israelis currently have in the US government is no less than amazing – possibly dangerous – and certainly exaggerated.

Take a look:



Don't Trust

Don't know










Last week, Lazar could see the signs of the coming mistrust. He asked Israelis to define Obama "compared to previous American presidents" and 69% of Jewish Israelis told him Obama was "more hostile". Only 3% said he was "more supportive". He asked whether Secretary of State John Kerry "helps or hurts" the effort to reach a cease fire, and 66% said "hurts" (13% said "helps"). He asked about Kerry's motivations and 72% said that Kerry acts out of "naiveté and miscomprehension of the situation". The good news: only 8% thought Kerry was acting out of "hostility to Israel".

Lazar is clinging to this last number, which leads him to say that "the only mitigation of Israelis' harsh assessment of the administration's performance it to say that it doesn't come from malice but rather because of lack of understanding of the situation". He says that the numbers presented in this poll are the pinnacle of a growing mistrust that began years ago. We have to remember, Lazar says, that "the Israeli public has been suspicious of Obama since the beginning of his presidency". We know that – we have the numbers to prove it.


Earlier this week I argued that Israelis are going back to a "grumbling as usual" mode. They are – By questioning the decisions of the political leaders, the performance of the generals, the wisdom of the cease fire and pullout. The only sector that is still praised by all Jewish Israelis is the soldiers. They performed with poise and bravery. If anyone had doubts about this generation of Facebook-using soldiers, these doubts are now gone.

We gathered three such polls, and present you the two questions that we think are currently the most interesting to track: who won the war, and how did the Prime Minister – the man ultimately responsible for Israel's actions – perform.

Each of the tables is followed by a few comments.

Who won the war?




Neither/Don’t Know


















Public opinion polls taken in the past few days demonstrate the extent to which Israelis understand the complexity of declaring victory in the aftermath of operations like the Gaza operation. They know that the outcome will only be determined when the terms and implementation of a cease fire are in place. They have settled for "neither" but are not happy about it – they'd rather see a victory.

In the new Panels Politics survey – the one from which we took the numbers on trust in the US – Lazar asked if ending the operation the way Israel did was the right decision. 60% say "no". This is a reasonable answer considering the fact that 67% of Israelis say that they still "do not feel safe" from Hamas' aggression and that 76% of them do not believe that the period of quiet will be long.

So why do I say Israelis are willing to reluctantly accept the outcome of the operation? One reason is because I see Prime Minister Netanyahu's approval numbers.

Netanyahu's performance



Mediocre/not so good


Don’t know







77% (33% great; 44% good)





In today's Panels Politics survey, 63% of Israelis say that they are satisfied with Netanyahu’s performance during the operation. This is not as high as it was earlier in the last couple of weeks, but is still quite remarkable. And it means that while Israelis are not certain about the outcome, and feel that the operation ended inconclusively, and can even say that ending it was not the right thing to do – they still, generally speaking, have trust that the Prime Minister is doing the right thing.

Of course, this doesn't seem consistent – Israelis don't quite seem like they know what they want. That is, because they really don't. They want victory but understand that the type of victory they wish for is unrealistic. So their solution is to grumble a little, and state their satisfaction with the performance of the government whose actions they are grumbling about.

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