The Positions of the Israeli Right-Wing

August 26, 2019


Israel Democracy Institute Staff, Israel Democracy Institute, August 12, 2019

With permissions read full article at IDI.

The survey was conducted among right wing voters from April’s election who supporter the following parties: Likud, Shas, UTJ (United Torah Judaism), Yisrael Beitenu, URP (United Right Parties), Kulanu, the New Right, Zehut, and Gesher.

Methodology

On June 24–26, 2019, an online survey of the Jewish public was conducted by the Guttman Center at the Israel Democracy Institute (supplemented by telephone interviews to include the ultra-Orthodox, less inclined to be responsive online).

The survey included 1063 supporters of the following parties: the Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism (UTJ), Yisrael Beitenu, the Union of Rightwing Parties (URP), Kulanu, the New Right, Zehut, and Gesher. 

The table below displays the number of respondents who reported having voted for one of the right-wing parties. The respondents were weighted to reflect the results of the April 2019 election.

 Number who voted for  the party in the last election% of the sample (unweighted)
Likud38736.4
UTJ17716.7
Shas928.7
URP928.7
New Right767.1
Kulanu757.1
Yisrael Beitenu656.1
Zehut565.3
Gesher434

Demography

Gender

546 of the respondents were women (51.4%), and 517 men (48.6%)

Age

The average age of the interviewees was 40.1, and the median age was 36.

Age% of the sample
18-2412.2
25-3433.3
35-4421
45-5414.1
 55-6410.5
65 +9.2

Place of Birth:

Most of the interviewees were born in Israel (80%), 12% immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union and the rest (8%) immigrated to Israel from different countries.

Levels of Religious Observance:

How do you define yourself, your level of religious observance?% of the sample
Ultra-Orthodox24.4
Hardal – “ultra-Orthodox Zionists”3.8
National Religious17.6
Traditional Religious9.7
Traditional Non-Religious16.5
Secular28.1

District of Residence:

 % of the sample
Center26.3
Tel-Aviv-Yafo19.7
South16.1
Jerusalem15.4
Haifa9.2
Judea and Samaria6.8
North6.5

Between Right and Left:

In Israeli politics, the terms Right and Left are frequently used. Where do you place yourself on a scale when 1 is Left, 4 is Center, and 7 is Right?

 % of the sample
1 – Left0.3
20.3
31.4
4 – Center13.4
517.2
628.9
7 – Right36
Don’t Know/Refused to Answer2.5

The survey’s main findings are presented below.

1. Netanyahu and the Legal System

Do you agree or disagree that law-enforcement agencies are pursuing Netanyahu for political reasons, with the goal of removing him from office?

Two-thirds of the voters for rightwing parties (67%) believe that the law-enforcement agencies are persecuting Netanyahu due to political motives, with the goal of removing him from his post. Much stronger support for this view was found among voters for the ultra-Orthodox parties; by contrast, a majority of the supporters of Yisrael Beitenu, Kulanu, and Gesher did not agree with this statement. 

The percentage of interviewees agreeing with the statement that law-enforcement agencies are persecuting Netanyahu for political reasons, with the goal of removing him from office (%, the party for which they voted in the last election)

To what degree do you agree that even if a decision is made to file an indictment against Benjamin Netanyahu, he will be able to function properly as Prime Minister, while at the same time defending himself against the charges?

Most right-wing voters (63%) believe that even if a decision is made to file an indictment against Benjamin Netanyahu, he would still be able to function properly as Prime Minister, while also defending himself against the charges. The strongest support for this statement came from supporters of the ultra-Orthodox parties, while a majority of those who voted for Yisrael Beitenu, Kulanu, and Gesher, disagreed. 

Even if a decision is made to file an indictment against Benjamin Netanyahu, he will be able to function properly as Prime Minister while at the same time defending himself against the charges (% agreeing with the statement, by the party for which they voted in the last election)

In addition to the above question, we asked: “If, after a hearing, the Attorney General decides to file an indictment against Prime Minister Netanyahu, which of the following options would you prefer?” Some 30% of the voters for rightwing parties responded that they would prefer that Netanyahu remain in office throughout a trial; another 23% supported a grant of immunity from prosecution, 21% would have him temporarily withdraw from politics but return to his post after an acquittal, 18% favor his resignation, 6% would like to see a plea bargain in which, in return for a total withdrawal from politics, Netanyahu would not be put on trial; and 2% indicated – “other.” 

Should the Attorney General decide after a hearing to file an indictment against Prime Minister Netanyahu, which of the following options would you prefer? (%)

Analysis of the findings by the party respondents voted for in the last election reveals that the preferred option of Likud, ultra-Orthodox, and the URP supporters, was for Netanyahu to remain in office even with a trial in progress, or a grant of immunity from prosecution. The preferred option among supporters of the other rightwing parties was resignation, followed by a temporary withdrawal from politics.

The Three Preferred Options, by Party (%)

PartyFirst choiceSecond choiceThird choice
LikudContinue as Prime Minister (39.5%)Immunity (21%)Temporary withdrawal (21%)
ShasImmunity (38%)Continue as Prime Minister (27%)Temporary withdrawal (19%)
UTJImmunity (45%)Continue as Prime Minister (28%)Temporary withdrawal (14.5%)
URPImmunity (35%)Continue as Prime Minister (28%)Temporary withdrawal (13%)
Yisrael BeitenuResignation (36%)Temporary withdrawal (22%)Continue as Prime Minister (17%)
KulanuResignation (44%)Temporary withdrawal (30%)Continue as Prime Minister (13.5%)
New RightResignation (27%)Temporary withdrawal (23.5%)Immunity (20.5%)
ZehutResignation (39%)Temporary withdrawal (25%)Continue as Prime Minister (24%)
GesherResignation (69%)Temporary withdrawal (27%)Plea bargain (4%)

Summary:

An analysis of the positions on various issues relating to Prime Minister Netanyahu and the judicial system shows that among those who voted in the last elections for parties identified as right-wing parties, there are two different groups. In the first group, are those who voted in the last elections for the Likud, the ultra-Orthodox parties, the United List of the right-wing parties and the New Right party. Many of those who belong to this group think that the judicial system pursues the prime minister for political reasons, and even if the attorney general decides to indict him, support the continuation of his term of office. In the second group are Yisrael Beiteinu, Kulanu, and Gesher voters. At the same time, a majority of those who think that law enforcement authorities are not persecuting Netanyahu, support Netanyahu’s retirement from political life if he is indicted.

2. The Appropriate Balance between the Branches of Government 

Attitudes of right-wing voters on the enactment of an Override Clause

In reaction to the possibility that the Attorney General might decide to file an indictment against Prime Minister Netanyahu, a proposal was floated to enact an Override Clause, which would strip the High Court of Justice of its power to strike down Knesset legislation and decisions. We asked, “Should an Override Clause be enacted?”

In response, 73.5% of right wing voters supported the idea of an override clause, whether by a plurality (simple majority, 22% of the total), an absolute majority of 61 Knesset members (19.5%), a supermajority of 70 MKs (11%); or as part of a legislative package that would deal with all aspects of the relations between the branches of government and offer new ideas about the appropriate balance. Another 12.5% were not familiar with the Override Clause or had not formed an opinion on the issue, and 14% did not support an Override Clause.

Should an Override Clause be Enacted? (%)

To what extent do you agree or disagree that politicians should be given greater power at the expense of the judicial branch, which is too strong?

Voters for rightwing parties are split on the question: “Should politicians be given greater power at the expense of the judicial branch, which is too strong?” 47% answered in the affirmative, while 43% replied in the negative.

There are significant differences from party to party on this issue. Whereas most voters for the URP and ultra-Orthodox parties support giving politicians more power, slightly less than half of those who supported the Likud, the New Right, and Zehut did so, and there was strong opposition among voters for Yisrael Beitenu, Kulanu, and Gesher.

Politicians should be given greater power at the expense of the judicial branch, which is too strong (agree, %)

To what extent is it important to maintain the courts’ review and oversight of Knesset and Government decisions, so that officeholders cannot abuse their power?

On the other hand, roughly two-thirds of respondents indicated that it is important to maintain the courts’ review and oversight of Knesset and Government decisions, to prevent officeholders from abusing their power; only 24% did not agree.

The majority of supporters of all parties agreed with this statement.

It is important to maintain the courts’ review and oversight of Knesset and Government decisions so that officeholders cannot abuse their power (%)

To what extent do you agree or disagree that a committee of experts should be formed to recommend ways of redressing the balance between the judiciary and the other branches of government (the executive and the legislative)? 

A large majority of right wing voters (69%) agree that a committee of experts should be formed to recommend ways of redressing the balance between the judiciary and the other branches of government (the executive and the legislative). There was strong support for such a committee among voters for all the parties included in the survey.

Do you agree or disagree that a committee of experts should be formed to recommend ways of redressing the balance between the judiciary and the other branches of government (the executive and the legislative)? (%)

The next question was, “if a committee is formed to study the balance between the branches of government, would you support or oppose a moratorium on legislation that would alter this balance, such as the Override Clause that would allow the Knesset to re-enact laws struck down by the High Court, before the committee submitted its recommendations?” Here, 42% would support such a moratorium, 27% were opposed, and almost a third (31%) replied that they didn’t know. The strongest support came from voters for Kulanu (47%) and the Likud (46%); the strongest opposition was expressed by supporters of the URP (43%) and Zehut (43%).

The Immunity Law

Support for an immunity law was also investigated. Most of those who voted for rightwing parties (55.5%) stated that, “Granting elected officials immunity from prosecution during their term of office would infringe on the equality of all citizens before the law.” But 30% agreed that, “Elected officials have won the people’s trust, and should accordingly be granted immunity from prosecution during their term of office.” 

Which of these views do you most agree with? (%)

Among voters for all the rightwing parties, only among voters for the URP and UTJ was support for immunity greater than opposition to it. In the other parties examined, the majority held that granting immunity creates inequality before the law between citizens.

Elected officials have won the trust of the people, and therefore should be granted immunity from prosecution during their term of office (%, agree)

To what extent do you agree or disagree that before a judge is appointed to the Supreme Court, the Knesset must hold a public hearing?

Some 60% of those who voted for the right wing parties favored the idea, and only 23% were opposed. Only among voters for Kulanu and Gesher was there less than majority support for such hearings (46% and 37%, respectively).

Summary:

In the previous section, which examined attitudes towards the attitude of the judicial system to Netanyahu, it emerged that there was “closing of ranks” in support and defense of the prime minister. An overwhelming majority noted that it is the law enforcement system in particular, that persecuted Netanyahu, and that he could continue to serve as prime minister if the attorney general decided to indict him after the hearing. On the other hand, when “in principle” positions were examined regarding the balance between the authorities and the separation of the authorities, we found that there is relatively high support for these positions. For example, over two-thirds of the interviewees noted that it is important to preserve the control and supervision of the court over the executive and legislative authorities, and a majority argued that the Immunity Law creates inequality before the law between citizens of the state.

3. The End of the Netanyahu Era?

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the time has come for the right wing camp to replace Netanyahu with a different leader?

We asked whether voters for the right wing parties agree or disagree that, “The time has come for the right wing camp to replace Netanyahu with a different leader.” Here, 32.5% of the respondents agreed with this statement, while a majority (55%) did not.

The time has come for the right wing camp to replace Netanyahu with a different leader (%)

Analysis of the data according to religious self-definition reveals that whereas 73% of the ultra-Orthodox disagree with the statement that the time has come to replace Netanyahu, and only 14% agree with it, among secular voters, the responses are much more balanced: 38% agree that the time has come to replace Netanyahu, while 48% disagree.

Why is it time to replace Netanyahu? 

Those who said that it was time for a new Prime Minister, were asked why they thought Netanyahu should pack his bags, and could choose more than one response. The most common response was that a person facing criminal charges should not serve as Prime Minister (52%); this was followed by displeasure with Netanyahu’s policies in various areas, such as the economic and political (35%); 19% said he should quit because there is no chance of establishing a unity government as long as he heads the Likud; 18% indicated that the right wing is in danger of losing power if Netanyahu hangs on; and 9.5% thought it was time for new blood, that two terms were enough, or felt that he had done as much as he could.

Why should Prime Minister Netanyahu Quit? (%; more than one response was possible)

Why should Prime Minister Netanyahu quit? (% of those who said he should be replaced; more than one response was possible)

PartyNA person facing criminal charges should not serve as Prime MinisterDispleasure with Netanyahu’s policies There is no chance of a unity government Time for new blood / term limits / he has done as much as he can
Likud11653%19.50%15%18%12%
Shas1855.50%36%5%23%5%
UTJ1427%35%11%6%31%
Yisrael Beitenu3447.50%37%20%19.50%
URP2331%70%19%24%11%
Kulanu4961%44%26%14%8%
New Right3252%37.50%30%20%11%
Zehut2940%53%19%17.50%7.50%
Gesher2883%27%26%13%4%

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the voices on the right calling to replace Netanyahu with another leader of the right are weakening the rightwing camp? 

We also asked respondents whether they agreed that “the voices on the right calling to replace Netanyahu with another leader of the right are weakening the right wing camp.” Most voters for right wing parties (59%) agreed with this statement; 33% disagreed with it.

Among voters for the Likud, the ultra-Orthodox parties, and the URP, a majority agreed that the voices calling for Netanyahu’s replacement are weakening the right. Among the supporters of other parties, the percentage of those who disagree is greater than that of those who agree.

The voices on the right calling to replace Netanyahu with another leader of the right are weakening the right wing camp (%, agree)

Summary:

Similarly to the picture emerging in the first section, which examined attitudes towards Netanyahu and the legal system, when we examined the positions toward the continuation of Netanyahu’s term, we see that the voters for the right-wing parties are divided into two. While Likud voters, the Union of right-wing parties, and ultra-Orthodox parties believe that he should not be replaced, and that the voices calling for his replacement weaken the right-wing camp, among Gesher voters, Kulanu, Yisrael Beiteinu, are identical, and to a certain extent — the new right-the majority also believes that Netanyahu should be replaced and do not agree that the voices calling for his replacement weaken the right-wing camp.

4. Trust in State Institutions

Trust in State Institutions: Police, Knesset, Attorney General, the Government, and the Supreme Court

Those who voted for right wing parties were asked about their trust in four state institutions: Israel’s Police, the Knesset, the Attorney General, and the Supreme Court. For all four, the percentage of those who have “absolutely no trust” or “very little trust” in them exceeds the percentage of those who have “very strong” or “strong” trust in them.

Trust in State Institutions (% who trust them)

Analysis of the responses by party indicates that only Gesher voters trust the Israel Police more than they distrust it. The lowest level of trust in the Police was found among voters for ultra-Orthodox parties.

Trust in the Israel Police (% who trust the police)

Analysis of the responses by party indicates that among voters for the URP, the New Right, Yisrael Beitenu, and the Likud, the levels of trust and distrust in the Knesset are roughly equal. Trust in the Knesset was lower among supporters of the other parties.

Trust in the Knesset (% who trust it)

The highest level of trust in the Attorney General was expressed by Gesher voters, and the lowest level among supporters of the ultra-Orthodox parties and the URP.

Trust in the Attorney General (% who trust him)

The picture on trust in the Supreme Court resembles that with regard to the Attorney General. Voters for the ultra-Orthodox parties and the URP have little trust in the Court, whereas most supporters of Gesher, Yisrael Beitenu, and Kulanu expressed their trust.

Trust in the Supreme Court (% who trust it)

To what extent do you agree or disagree that if you stand trial you will have a fair trial in a court of justice?

Respondents were also asked whether they believed they would receive a fair trial, should they be charged with a crime. Most voters for the right wing parties replied that they would receive a fair trial (56%); only 29% thought otherwise. Confidence in a fair trial was most prevalent among voters for Gesher (64%), the Likud (62%), and Kulanu (59%), and lowest among supporters of the ultra-Orthodox parties (UTJ, 37%; Shas, 45%) and the URP (44%).

If I stand trial, I believe that I will have a fair trial in court (%, agree)

Summary:

Most voters for the right wing parties expressed little trust in the various state institutions – the police, the Knesset, the Supreme Court and the Attorney General. Particularly low trust in law enforcement institutions is found among the ultra-Orthodox parties and the unification of the right-wing parties, as opposed to the relatively high trust in these institutions among Gesher voters, Kulanu and Yisrael Beitenu.

5. Additional Questions

To what extent do you agree or disagree that a National Unity Government should be formed after the coming elections?

We also looked into the extent of right wing voters’ support for the formation of a National Unity Government after the Knesset elections in September 2019. Opinions on this were divided: 42% supported the idea and 44% were opposed to it.

A National Unity Government should be formed after the coming elections (%)

Among those who voted for Gesher, Kulanu, and Yisrael Beitenu, there was broad support for a National Unity Government after the September elections. Among those who voted for the Likud, the New Right, and Zehut, the number of supporters and opponents of the idea were roughly equal (Likud: 42% in favor, 44% opposed, and 14% don’t know). A decisive majority in the ultra-Orthodox parties and the URP are opposed to a unity government.

A National Unity Government should be formed after the coming elections (% who agree)

To what extent do you agree that politicians are more concerned about their personal interests than those of the public that voted for them?

Most supporters of the right wing parties think that politicians look out for their own interests more than those of the public: 74% agreed with this statement, and only 20% disagreed. Among the various parties, Kulanu voters in the last elections agreed to the greatest extent that politicians only care for their personal interests (91%), whereas among Shas voters and the right wing parties, the agreement is the lowest, but a majority in both of these parties agreed with the statement (65% and 64%, respectively).

The politicians are more concerned about their personal interests, than the interests of the public that voted for them (%, agree)

And finally, “Lieberman is the left” or “Who is a rightist”?

The Quick Survey of Right Wing Voters was conducted by the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. In the survey, which was conducted on the internet and by telephone (to supplement groups that are not sufficiently represented among Internet users, on June 23 and to June 24, 1063 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew. The survey is a representative national sample of Israelis aged 18 and older who voted for one of the following parties in the April 2019 election: Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Yisrael Beitenu, United Right Parties, Kulanu, New Right, Zehut, and Gesher. The maximum sampling error for the entire sample was 3%± at a confidence level of 95%. The fieldwork was done by the Rafi Smith Institute under the direction of Rafi Smith. For the full data file see: https://dataisrael.idi.org.il/