Sixty percent of the Israeli Jewish public supports the prisoner exchange deal Israel signed with Hizbullah in an effort to free kidnapped IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, even though it means releasing all the Lebanese prisoners it holds, including Samir Kuntar; and only 32% oppose it, the War and Peace Index revealed Sunday.
The War and Peace Index is conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research. Published monthly since 1994, it is run by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann and is compiled of a monthly telephone survey of 600 Israeli citizens representing the various sectors in Israeli society.
The poll also the Jewish public's views on the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the militant groups in the Gaza Strip; which entails the release of numerous Palestinian prisoners in return for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
A large majority of 70% said they would supports the deal and 20% oppose it, indicating that the Israeli public is more willing pay a high price for the return of IDF soldiers who are captured by the enemy hands.
The evident shift in public opinion regarding such exchange deals, said the Steinmetz Center may also indicate a change in the way other issues in the foreign and defense spheres are viewed by the public.
As for the Egyptian-mediated truce between Israel and Hamas, public opinion was split: Some 45% said the agreement was good for Israel, while 48% disagreed. However, an unequivocal majority of 79% believed the deal served Hamas' interests more than it did Israel's. Nevertheless, 64% said the believed Hamas will not honor the agreement even if Israel does, with only 8.5% saying Israel will be the one to violate the truce.
According to the War and Peace Index, many of the public's doubts regarding the ceasefire's chances are rooted in an innate skepticism about the motives behind the government's decision to support it.
Fifty-one percent of those polled said they believed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's main motivation for the truce was his political survival, 30% said he was motivated by Israel's national security needs and 12.5% thought both interests played a part in the decision.
As for Defense Minister Ehud Barak's role in the decision, 45.5% of the interviewees said he was probably guided by political-considerations, 35% by said he was looking out for Israel's national security needs and 11% said the decision was the product of both.
As for the negotiations with Syria, an overwhelming majority of Israeli oppose making any concessions in the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace agreement, as a clear-cut majority of 75% opposed any treaty which would call for such moves.