Sources close to U.S. President Barack Obama hinted that the U.S. president was not coming to the region with any new peace initiatives, so it appears he will not be wrecking the expectations of Jewish Israelis, the majority of which believe that Obama will not be able to significantly impact peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
According to a poll released by the Israel Democracy Institute just one day before Obama is scheduled to alight at Ben-Gurion International Airport to red carpet fanfare, 62 percent of Jewish Israelis do not believe that the current U.S. president can bring about any real breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Only 37% believe that Obama could break the status quo.
After pollsters divided participants by party, the survey revealed that Labor members were the most optimistic concerning the U.S. president's peace-building capacity, with 74% supporting Obama's abilities. Following Labor was Hatnuah (67%), Kadima (67%) and Meretz (50%), all left-leaning or centrist parties. Only 22% of the settler-supported Habayit Hayehudi backed Obama's peace-making potential, and only 12% of Shas members shared the sentiment.
Jewish Israelis are divided almost evenly with regards to whether Israel ought to show more flexibility to help Obama get negotiations with the Palestinians restarted. Around 50% said they believed Israel should show more flexibility, while 48% said Jerusalem should remain steadfast and make no concessions. A resounding majority of Meretz members (91%) said they though Israel ought to be more pliant to political changes that would facilitate getting negotiations back on track, followed by Kadima and Labor (both 84%) and Yesh Atid (74%). On the other side of the spectrum, minorities in three religious parties, Shas (28%), Habayit Hayehudi (18%) and United Torah Judaism (14%), said Israel ought to acquiesce to move peace talks forward.
A small majority of Jewish Israelis (51%) said they believed Obama carried a neutral, business-like attitude towards the Jewish state, while 36% believed he was friendly and 11% believed the U.S. president to be hostile toward Israel. More Jewish Israelis thought Obama was pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel, 23% and 18%, respectively.
Obama is scheduled to land in Israel on Wednesday for a two-day trip that will include a visit to Yad Vashem, meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, a speech to Israeli students and trips to the Palestinian territories.