Poll: 85% oppose releasing prisoners for peace

Palestinian demand to release detainees from prison "unacceptable" to majority of Israeli Jews.

June 11, 2013 06:00
2 minute read.
Palestinians in Ramallah hold prisoners' pictures

Palestinians in Ramallah hold pictures of prisoners 370 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

The Palestinian Authority’s demand that Israel release terrorists from prison as a precondition for peace talks is unacceptable to 85 percent of Israeli Jews, according to a Smith Research poll sponsored by the Knesset’s Land of Israel caucus.

Asked whether they would support releasing terrorists as a gesture to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table, 57% said they would strongly oppose it, 28% said were against it, 13% said they supported it and just 2% said they were strongly in favor of such a move.

The poll of 407 respondents representing a sample of the Jewish population of Israel was taken last week and has a 5% margin of error.

The survey also asked how withdrawing from Judea and Samaria would impact the security situation in Israel. It found that 68% of Israelis believe it would harm Israeli security and 21% believe it would improve it.

The poll was taken in honor of the caucus’s launch on Tuesday.

It is to consist of 35 MKs plus the outside support of several cabinet ministers who cannot join caucuses.

Yesh Atid MKs Dov Lipman and Pnina Tamnu-Shata have joined, though more Yesh Atid MKs have joined a rival caucus that supports two states for two peoples.

“The caucus will be the conscience of the government and the Knesset,” said its leader, coalition chairman Yariv Levin. “We will work to strengthen our grasp over all of the Land of Israel and maintain the settlement enterprise out of faith and knowledge that realizing our right to the land is our obligation and the best guarantee of Israel’s security.”

But Levin cautioned that the caucus would support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s efforts to restart the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

“This is not intended to be a maneuver against the prime minister, and it should not be interpreted that way,” he said.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni urged Netanyahu on Monday to disavow statements by right-wing MKs in his coalition about the government opposing peace talks. Speaking to her faction in the Knesset, she warned against “a group of extremists who don’t want to advance the peace process and will use any excuse to prevent it from happening.”

Livni urged Yesh Atid to take a more active role in promoting the peace process. Shortly after Livni spoke, Netanyahu urged the heads of the factions in his coalition to stop attacking each other.

“We will all pay a price if the coalition will come apart,” Netanyahu said in Likud Beytenu's faction meeting. “When there are holes in the ship, it sinks.” •

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