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80 percent of Israeli Jews say peace deal impossible

Activists hold Israeli flags as they shout slogans during a protest against the government's plan to free Palestinian prisoners

Source : Agencies / 17 Aug 2013

Almost 80 percent of Israeli Jews believe a peace deal with the Palestinians is impossible, an opinion poll found on Friday, two days after the resumption of negotiations in Jerusalem.

Asked whether “this time, we will reach a final agreement that will put an end to the conflict,” 79.7 percent of respondents said no, and just 6.2 percent said yes.

Another 14.1 percent expressed no opinion.

The survey, published in rightwing freesheet Israel Hayom, was carried out by Israeli research institute Hagal Hahadash among a representative sample of 500 Israeli Jews.

Asked about the government’s decision to release long-serving Palestinian prisoners alongside the resumed peace talks, 77.5 percent of respondents said they opposed it and just 14.2 percent said they were in favor.

Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday, hours before the Jerusalem talks, the first of 104 prisoners slated for release in stages depending on progress in the negotiations.

A full 62.9 percent of respondents said they would rather the government announced a freeze on Jewish settlement construction than release prisoners, many of whom were convicted of murder. In the run-up to Wednesday’s talks, Israel authorized more than 2,000 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki lobbied Friday for international help to protect the new round of peace talks with Israel in the face of Israeli attempts to ‘derail’ the negotiations.

“Our concern here is really how we could preserve, protect the process from being derailed by Israel and what kind of mechanisms are needed by the international community in order to protect that process,”Maliki said after talks in Sofia with his Bulgarian counterpart Kristian Vigenin.

He said he hoped the international community, including the European Union, could help to ensure the talks were “continuous, serious and results-oriented.”

Maliki said he counted on EU member Bulgaria — a country with close ties to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority — to convey his message to the European Union.

The negotiations were however overshadowed by Israel’s announcement of plans to build 2,000 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank, infuriating Palestinian officials.

“If you want to go with good faith into the resumption of talks... you do not go and announce publicly that you insist on building further illegal settlement units in the Palestinian occupied territories,” Maliki said.

The Palestinians were expecting Israel would do things “in order to undermine the process” but that they themselves were fully committed to the talks.

 

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