Most of the Israeli public thinks that the prime minister has no mandate to carry out the disengagement plan and ought to obtain authorization by means of referendum before doing so.
This emerges from a poll conducted by Hanoch and Rafi Smith, with a representative sample of the Jewish population on October 18th and 19th.
The poll was commissioned by the Zionist Organization of America.

Question: “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the premise that since the Likud won the elections with a platform which opposed unilateral evacuation of settlements, the prime minister has no mandate to implement the disengagement plan, and it should be submitted to a referendum, or new elections should be held?

Answer: Of the entire sample, 34% said “I very much agree”; 18% said “I agree pretty well”; 11% said: “I don’t agree so much”; 33% said: “I don’t agree”; and 4% said they had no opinion on the question. According to the poll, 52% of the public agree, or pretty well agree that Sharon has no mandate and has to go back to the people for a decision.

Question: Some people maintain that the disengagement plan may be implemented only if a referendum shows that a majority of the public support it, while others hold that if a majority in the Knesset supports the plan, there is no need for a referendum. Which view is more acceptable to you?

Answer: 57% majority said the disengagement plan should be implemented only if it receives a majority in a referendum. Only 39% said the disengagement plan may be implemented if a majority in the Knesset supports it.

On the question of how big a majority was required in the referendum, opinions were divided almost evenly, although those who thought a special majority was necessary had a slight lead. 47% said a simple majority was sufficient; 48% said a majority of 65% would be needed.

The sample consisted of 500 adults. It was a representative sample of the Jewish population over the age of 18. [Hatzofeh did not mention the margin of error].

The poll also shows that only 35% of Likud voters in the last election never even conceived of the idea that the Likud might carry out a unilateral withdrawal, although a majority of the Likud voters – 56% – said they would have voted Likud anyway, even if they had known this. On the other hand, 37% of the Likud voters said they would not have voted Likud if they had known about the disengagement plan in advance.

It emerges that the public does not believe that the disengagement will improve Israel’s situation. Only 28% believe that the disengagement will enhance Israel’s ability to withstand international pressure, while 26% think the withdrawal will diminish Israel’s ability in this respect, and 36% think it will neither enhance it nor decrease it.

Only 24% believe that after the withdrawal, the firing of Kassam rockets at Sderot will diminish, while 66% believe it will remain at the present level or even increase. 42% believe that after the withdrawal the chances that Kassam rockets will reach Ashkelon, Ashdod or even central Israel, will increase.

Only 24% believe that after the withdrawal acts of terrorism will decrease, while 70% think their number will be unchanged or will even increase. 35% think there will be more acts of terrorism and a similar percentage think there will be no change in the number of terrorist attacks.

If the disengagement is not carried out, only 15% of the sample thought that the United States would reduce its support for Israel to a significant degree, while 75% think it will be reduced to a certain extent or not at all.

The poll also shows a large decline in support for the coalition parties. Support for the Likud has dropped from 28% to a mere 17%; for Shinui from 11% to 4%, and for the National Religious Party from 4% to 1%.

Support for the Labor party has also dropped from 15% to 9%.

This article ran in HaTzofeh on October 22nd, and was designed by IMRA , and commissioned, as mentioned in the article, by the ZOA.