The majority of Israeli Jews are against releasing Palestinian prisoners
with blood on their hands as a gesture to Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of the resumption of peace talks,
according to a Smith Research poll conducted on Wednesday for terror
victims organization Almagor.
The poll of 500 Israelis
representing a sample of the adult population found that 80 percent of
secular Jews said they were against releasing these Palestinian
prisoners, while over 95% of conservative and orthodox Jews objected to
such a gesture.
Palestinians have long demanded that Israel free prisoners held since
before 1993, when the two sides signed the Oslo Accords - an interim deal
intended to lead to an independent state the Palestinians seek in east
Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Saturday
that Israel has agreed to a long-standing Palestinian demand to release
Palestinian prisoners in order to resume peace talks, but will not
yield on other central issues.
"There will be some release of
prisoners," Steinitz told Israel Radio. "I don't want to give numbers
but there will be heavyweight prisoners who have been in jail for dozens
of years," he said. The release would be carried out in phases, he
Steinitz indicated that some of those who would be released had been convicted of violent crimes against Israelis.
"It will not be simple, but we will make that gesture," he said.
Monday, the head of the pardons department of the Justice Ministry,
attorney Ami Palmor, said the US-sponsored plan to restart peace talks
will include the release of 82 terrorists, all of whom have blood on their hands and are serving life sentences.
82 prisoners in question are all Palestinians from the West Bank and
Gaza who were sentenced for their crimes before the signing of the Oslo
Accords in 1993.
The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.5%.
Almagor, an organization founded in 1986 in the wake of the Jibril Deal, advocates for terror victims' rights.
Reuters and Ben Hartman contributed to this report.