A clear majority of Israelis believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has improved the country's standing on the world stage and bolstered its military strength, but less than a half give him a pass on integrity or willingness to narrow societal gaps, according to data released Monday by the Israel Democracy Institute.
According to the IDI survey, 60% of Israelis think that Netanyahu has strengthened Israel's position internationally, while 56% say he has improved the country's military power and just over half (50.5%) score him positively for the way he has handled Iran.
But his poor showing on social issues, with only 43% of those polled giving him a "medium" or "good" score on the question of whether he has reduced the gaps between social groups, could clash with the fact that the same percentage of Israelis believe the next government must make dealing with social disparity its first order of business.
Conversely, just 16% of those polled say renewing negotiations with the Palestinians should be the first priority. Dealing with the Iranian threat, integrating the Haredi community into the workforce and tackling corruption score even lower.
Social issues appear to be prominent in the minds of Israelis, with 53% saying Israel has not kept the pledge in the Declaration of Independence to provide equality for all. More than two thirds of the Arab (68.5%) and exactly half of the Jewish respondents said this, with 20% of Jews and 43% of Arabs saying the Arab population does not have equality. Fifteen percent said the Ethiopian community did not enjoy equality in Israel.
When it comes to the September Knesset elections, more than half of Israelis (56%) see little chance of Netanyahu, who this month became Israel's longest-serving prime minister, being replaced as premier.
Most also believe that even if the once-mighty Labor Party can win enough seats in September to pass the threshold and enter the Knesset, its leader Ami Peretz will not agree to join a Netanyahu government.
Overall, the mood in the country is positive, with more than half (52%) expressing optimism over Israel's security. This up from 50% in last month's poll.
The survey, which was conducted by phone and online, interviewed 652 Israeli adults in Hebrew and 127 in Arabic, in line with the country's demographics.
The maximum sampling error was 3.7%.