The ministers and Knesset members have had their say – but what do the people think of the Israel-Turkey reconciliation agreement, and especially of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s role in it? Not much, according to a poll by the Knesset Channel. According to the poll conducted by the Panels Politics organization on behalf of the Channel, 57 percent of Israelis believe that Netanyahu “folded” on key issues involved in the agreement.
The agreement itself was somewhat less popular, with 51 percent of respondents saying that they did not approve of the deal itself. Supporting it were 41 percent, while 8 percent had no opinion. When asked about Netanyahu’s performance, 51 percent rated it negative, while 23 percent approved of it and 20 percent were undecided.
There were two main concerns with the agreement, pollsters found: One, widespread anger over Israeli payment to Turkey of $21 million in reparation money for the deaths of 9 Hamas-affiliated provocateurs who were killed when they attacked IDF soldiers on the Mavi Marmara, the infamous ship that was part of the 2010 Gaza flotilla; and two, concern that the agreement did not do enough to ensure the return to Israel of missing IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin, Oron Shaul and Avraham Mengistu.
On the latter issue, 51 percent said that Israel should have insisted on the return of the soldiers, even at the cost of jeopardizing the agreement, while 31 percent said that the agreement needed to be approved regardless, and 18 percent had no opinion.
A special ministerial committee will be appointed to specifically deal with the fate of three missing Israelis, in the wake of the approval by the government of the reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey, ministers decided Wednesday.
IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul went missing during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, when witnesses saw their bodies dragged through the opening of a Hamas terror tunnel. The two were definitely killed in battle, the IDF said, but earlier this month their status was redefined and they were declared as also being “missing in action and in captivity.” Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, and Avraham Mengistu, along with a Bedouin-Israeli, were captured by Hamas in September 2014, at the end of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas originally claimed that Mengistu had entered Gaza willingly and that he had been released to live as a civilian there, but later confirmed that it was holding him and the second individual.
The families of the three soldiers on Thursday filed a High Court petition to hold up the deal. The court has not stated when the case will be held. The families have been demanding that the soldiers’ return be conditional on its approval – something Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said was not possible. On Friday, the families said that would also seek to block shipments of goods from Israel into Gaza at the Erez crossing.
On Wednesday, a senior Hamas terrorist said that Turkey had for months been negotiating with Hamas on the matter. In an interview with Arab media, the Hamas terrorist said that the matter had arisen during several recent meetings that Hamas had held with Turkish officials in advance of the deal’s approval. According to the terrorist, Israel and Hamas were developing an exchange arrangement, in which Israel would release terrorists in return for the soldiers. Turkey, he said, was brokering this deal.