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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In Israel, as in many other countries, the impact of public opinion on national policymaking has increased dramatically over the last few decades. In fact, public opinion has practically developed into one of the prime political inputs in Israel. This chapter argues that this increased impact, which could have contributed to improving the Israeli democracy, is in fact often undermined by the increasing overlapping of the main cleavages within Israel: between the political Right and Left, between Jews and Arabs, and between religious and secular Israelis. This extreme overlapping has severely eroded the national consensus and accelerated the emergence of deep disagreements in public opinion over strategic issues, such as the nature of the state (Jewish? Democratic?), the main challenges facing the nation (including the best way of dealing with the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict), and the desired collective future.

Keywords: Israel, public opinion, national consensus, identity politics, Left-Right division, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli Arabs, Ashkenazi

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