A Hiddush post-election survey reveals:

Most Israelis prefer a unity gov't with Likud and Blue & White

66% of the public prefers a Likud-Blue-&-White coalition to promote freedom of religion and equality, rather than a narrow government dependent on the ultra-Orthodox.

Most of the public does not want MK Rabbi Gafni or another ultra-Orthodox MK in charge of the Knesset Finance Committee; the Blue and White Party would have received more votes if it had fought harder for freedom of religion. These results emerges from a survey commissioned by Hiddush – Freedom of Religion and Equality. The ruling parties claim to represent the will of the majority of the Israeli public, but on issues of religion and state, they do the exact opposite.

66% of the Jewish public in Israel prefers a unity government with the Likud and Blue & White parties, without the ultra-Orthodox parties. This emerges from a public opinion survey conducted by the Smith Institute for Hiddush - Freedom of Religion and Equality. Only 34% want a narrow coalition dependent upon the support of the ultra-Orthodox parties, which cedes to their demands on religious issues.1

The distribution of the responses according to the Knesset vote in the last elections shows that 98% of Blue & White voters, 84% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters, and even 55% of Likud voters favor a unity government between Likud and Blue & White without the ultra-Orthodox parties. 89% of the Israeli secular public and 81% of the traditional-non-religious public support a coalition with Likud and Blue & White, which wouldn’t include the ultra-Orthodox parties.

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The public's positions on this issue are consistent and so regrettably is the continued disregard of most of the civil parties’ leadership for the public will and even the will of their own voters. According to Hiddush’s pre-election survey in February, 65% of the adult Jewish public expressed its desire that after the elections a coalition be established that does not depend on the ultra-Orthodox parties, which promotes freedom of religion and equality. Similar levels of opposition to the ultra-Orthodox parties as a coalition lynch pin were also revealed in Hiddush’s 2015 post-election survey, as well as in the Peace Index of Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute in January of this year.

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* The number of cases is small and therefore one must be careful in drawing conclusions regarding the positions of this party's voters

Following the demand of the ultra-Orthodox parties to reappoint MK Rabbi Gafni as the Knesset Finance Committee Chairman (comparable to the powerful U.S. House of Representative’s ‘Ways and Means’ Committee), the public's opposition to handing control over the state funds to MK Gafni or any other ultra-Orthodox MK once again proved clear: 68% of those who gave their opinions among adult Jewish Israelis oppose this, compared with only 32% who support it. A significantly high percentage of respondents refrained from expressing an opinion on this question [26%]. This was especially evident among Likud voters [31%], the Union of Right-wing parties [43%], Yisrael Beiteinu and Kulanu. The reason for this seems clear; the majority of the voters for these parties also object to paying the heavy price for the ultra-Orthodox parties’ support, but they are reluctant to state this openly, knowing that this is the cost of a narrow coalition, as opposed to a wider coalition as they would have preferred, in which the ultra-Orthodox parties’ ability to extort is neutralized. It is important to stress that of this, the percentage of Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Kulanu voters who oppose the chairmanship of the Finance Committee to MK Gafni is higher than the percentage of those who support it. This is most evident, for instance, among Yisrael Beiteinu voter [only 0% support this, compared to 64% who oppose it and 36% who refrain from expressing an opinion].

The survey also examined how important it is for the adult Jewish public now, after the elections, that the parties they voted for freedom of religion and equality.2  Similar questions were included in Hiddush’s pre-election surveys. The results are unequivocal: the majority of the public expects that its representatives will champion this cause. On this matter, as opposed to the previous question, only 7% responded that they don’t have an opinion. 65% of respondents who voiced an opinion said that it was very important or important to them! Only 19% responded that it is not particularly important or not important to them. Only 16% responded that they were opposed to the parties that they voted for acting on these issues.

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An analysis of the distribution of responses to this question shows that among those who attach importance to this question are: 63% of Likud voters, 79% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters, 64% of Kulanu voters, 95% of Blue & White voters, and 98% of Labor voters. Undoubtedly these findings also prove that in the internal debate as to the path of Blue & White on matters of religion and state and the extent to which the party should attempt to appease the ultra-Orthodox parties in hope that they agree to lay their eggs in the Blue & White nest in future elections, almost all of the party voters share Yair Lapid’s view and expect their party to act in a determined and assertive way in these matters, whether by joining the Likud in creating a coalition that does not depend on the ultra-Orthodox parties and is free to advance these core values, or by “making the coalition’s life hell” if Blue & White is not part of the coalition. This is also important for the Labor party, which is weighing its future course, in light of the fact that they chose in the past to disregard the will of their voters, and its support of religious freedom and equality was ambivalent, partial and unconvincing. This contributed in our view to the disappointing outcome of the elections as far as Labor was concerned.

Examining the religious / secular identities of the respondents strengthens the insights Hiddush pointed out in the past, as to the positions of the Israeli Jewish public on matters of religion and state. As expected, 89% of the secular public responded that this is very important or important to it. In this, one can see a distinct difference between those who define themselves as traditional-not-so-religious, which resembles the secular public on matters of religion and state (79%), and the public that defines itself as traditional-close-to-religion (42%). We have also seen once again that there is a not negligible percentage among the Zionist Orthodox public that attaches importance to advancing religious freedom and equality (15% - important to them, only 50% oppose).

Blue & white and the Labor party, who did not want to upset the ultra-Orthodox parties, missed an opportunity to gain greater trust from the public, most of which expects greater leadership in the field of religion-state relations. Leaders of these parties must listen to the voices of their voters who want to see a coalition without the ultra-Orthodox parties, which is a precondition for realizing Israel's vision as a truly Jewish and democratic state. Hopefully in the internal dispute within Blue & White, Lapid's position will gain traction over illusions of cooperation with the ultra-Orthodox parties voiced by several party activists, who still have ridiculous dreams of future support from the ultra-Orthodox parties. In the meantime they turn their backs on the vast majority of their voters who want them to lead the struggle for freedom of religion and equality in Israel.

Another issue examined by the survey is: would Blue & White have received more votes in the election if it had given greater weight to freedom of religion and equality of the civic burden in its platform and its election campaign.3  The result is clear - the party would have netted significant additional votes if it had done so.

The sample used for this question did not include those who defined themselves as ultra-Orthodox. Of the respondents [without the ultra-Orthodox] 28% responded that this would have increased the chances, compared with 7% who said it would have reduced the chances. Among respondents in the sample [without those who identified as ultra-Orthodox and without those who actually voted for Blue & White], namely – among the potential voters who did not vote for the party, the percentage of those who responded that this would increase the chances that they would vote for the party was double [20%] the percentage of those who responded that this would have reduced the likelihood [10%]. If we limit this to the natural target populations of the Blue & White party, the gap is even greater as we shall see below. Only a small percentage (7-8%) replied that they had no opinion.

An examination of the distribution of responses shows that among the secular Israeli public, 40% responded that this would increase the likelihood that they would vote 'Blue & White', compared to only 3% who responded that it would decrease the likelihood. Similarly, among the traditional non-religious public: 20% - would have increased, compared to only 5% who said it would have reduced the chances. If we try to understand where these votes might have come from, we arrive at the following: there would likely have been a wave of votes from the Labor Party [for 45% of their voters this would have increased the chances that their support would have gone to Blue & White] and Meretz [62%]. It might have also influenced the voters for the emerging coalition parties [11% of Likud voters, 34% of Kulanu voters, and 20% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters].

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The conclusions of the survey according to Hiddush are:

  1. Many of the right-wing parties purport to represent the “will of the people”, but on matters of religion and state they do exactly the opposite. Blue & White and Labor missed an opportunity to increase their representation in the Knesset by giving a more faithful expression to the public, the majority of which expects a more meaningful leadership in this area. The leaders of these parties need to be attentive to the voices of their voters, who want to see a coalition in which they participate without the ultra-Orthodox parties or by neutralizing their ability to dictate the paths of Judaism in the State of Israel and forcing them to abide by the principle of equality in shouldering the civic burden. Both are a prerequisite of the realization of the State of Israel as a truly Jewish and democratic state.
  2. It is to be hoped that in the internal debates within Blue & White, Lapid’s position will outweigh the illusions expressed by some of the party activists, as to collaborating with the ultra-Orthodox parties. The latter are still suffering from blindness and illusions of future support by the ultra-Orthodox parties. In the meantime, they turn their backs to the overwhelming majority of their voters who want them to lead the battle for religious freedom and equality in Israel. The direction that is suggested by Lapid expresses not only the will of the majority of the public, but also the interest of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
  3. Lieberman’s pronouncements on matters of religion & state more accurately and more faithfully reflect the will of his voters than the pronouncements of the other parties in the center, the right, and the left. Likewise, so are Meretz’s positions on these matters.



  1. The question was: "Which coalition do you prefer to be established following the elections? A narrow government dependent upon the support of the ultra-Orthodox parties and requiring their religious demands to be accepted, or a broader coalition based on Likud and Blue & White, without the ultra-Orthodox parties?"
  2. The question was: “How important is it to you that the party for which you voted will fight in the Knesset to promote freedom of religion and equality of burden and related issues such as civil marriage and divorce, operation of public transportation on the Sabbath, the conscription of yeshiva students, etc.? Very important; quite important; not so important; not important; I oppose the party I voted for advocating for these issues; no opinion.”
  3. The question was: "If 'Blue & White' announced before the elections a commitment to fight for freedom of religion and equality of civic burden, and declared that it would not give in to the demands of the ultra-Orthodox parties in this area, would that have increased or decreased the likelihood that you would have voted for 'Blue & White' or would that not have affected the chances?"


* These findings are the result of a telephone survey conducted by the Smith Institute on April 16-17 of 600 respondents, a representative sample of Israel's adult Jewish population. The sampling error is ± 4%. The number of participants in the sample who voted for Kulanu or Meretz, given their relatively low election results, is small; therefore this requires caution in drawing firm conclusions based on their voters who were part of the sample. This was the fourth election survey conducted by the Smith Institute and commissioned by Hiddush, following three pre-election surveys. One may review the main findings of the pre-election surveys on the Hiddush website:

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