Israel’s Foreign Policy and Public Opinion
I wanted to bring to your attention a recent article on Vox that discusses Israeli foreign policy public opinion figures in the country. As many may be aware, Israel has carried out a very aggressive (and hawkish) foreign policy, and with the current leader Benjamin Netanyahu, there seems to be no signs of this abating).
Despite the fact that Netanyahu has had electoral success–and in part due some willing to support his positions on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, his position on Iran, and elsewhere, there are many in the country that are not happy with the direction that Netanyahu and his Likud Party (and extended coalition) are taking the country. According to the report, “A new poll from the Israeli think tank Mitvim shows that 60 percent of Israelis disapprove of his government’s performance on foreign policy — nearly double the number who did so in the same poll last year.”
The piece goes on to also state that “The poll, first reported by the Jerusalem Post‘s Lahav Harkov on Thursday, asked 600 Israelis to rank the government’s foreign policy performance on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is bad, 5 is neutral, and 10 is very good. Sixty percent of Israelis responded with a rating between 1 and 4 — varying degrees of “bad.” Last year, the figure was only 34 percent.”
According to the report, there are a couple of particular aspects of the current government’s foreign policy that is leading to such an unfavorable position. Namely,
The US is Israel’s biggest ally, and Israelis are very sensitive to the tone of their relationship with the US. Netanyahu clashed repeatedly with his American counterparts, both with Bill Clinton when he was prime minister in the ’90s and with Barack Obama during the president’s first six years in office.
But 2015 was really the year the Netanyahu-Obama relationship collapsed, and Iran was the key cause. Netanyahu pushed hard against the Iran deal and meddled in American domestic politics to try to block it.
He gave a speech before Congress orchestrated by Republicans, behind Obama’s back, in a deliberate attempt to undermine Obama’s support for the deal in Congress. He all but registered as a lobbyist against the deal when there was an (ultimately doomed) effort by congressional Republicans to torpedo it. In essence, Netanyahu sided with the Republican Party against the Obama administration — infuriating the Obama administration.
Israelis, of course, noticed this. Netanyahu’s political opponents, particularly on the center and left, have bashed him for undermining the US-Israel relationship. Forty-one percent of Israelis said relations with the US were “not good” in Mitvim’s poll — more than twice as many who said that in last year’s poll.
According to the report, the opinion of Israeli foreign policy is coupled with that fact that the Iran nuclear deal is going forward (Vox, 2015).
Along with these issues, as the situation with regards to the Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories continued to violate human rights, and as the international community continued to speak out more and more against the Israel government actions, it will interesting to if that will have some effect on foreign policy public opinion in Israel.