'60% of Palestinians reject Israel'

Poll shows 55% of Israelis believe Hamas will not moderate over time.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
March 26, 2006 18:32
2 minute read.
'60% of Palestinians reject Israel'

hamas parliament 298.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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Nearly 60 percent of Palestinians oppose the recognition of the State of Israel by Hamas, compared to only 37% who support Hamas recognizing Israel, according to a public opinion poll released on Sunday, which was carried out by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. On the other hand, the survey finds that during an era of peace with an existing Palestinian State, 66% of Palestinians would support Hamas' recognition of the State of Israel. The international community has demanded that the new Hamas government recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and honor all Israeli-Palestinian agreements, threatening to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in annual aid to the new Palestinian Government if they fail to do so. But in the two months since its victory, Hamas has adamantly refused to recognize Israel or renounce its armed struggle, setting into motion a battle of wills between the Islamic terror group and the West, with some European countries already planning on channeling all of their economic assistance to the Palestinians via UN and other non-Governmental agencies. Hamas, which is the largest and most powerful of the Palestinian terror organizations, has carried out scores of bombings over the last five years of Palestinian violence, killing hundreds of Israeli civilians. The group, which calls for the destruction of Israel, has largely maintained an informal truce that went into effect last year. According to the survey, 55% of the Israeli public believe there are "low" or "very low" chances that Hamas will moderate over time, while 44% think there are "medium" or "high" chances for this to happen. Despite the landslide Hamas victory, the poll also found that a majority of Israelis and Palestinians still favor negotiated settlement over unilateral moves, such as last year's Israeli pullout from Gaza. Of the Israelis polled, 63% said that taking unilateral steps decreases the chances of eventually reaching a final peace agreement; 59% of Palestinians agreed with that view. Previous public opinion polls have found that a small majority of Israelis support a second unilateral West Bank pullout. Nearly three quarters of both Israelis and Palestinians polled said they would prefer to see further 'disengagements' in the West Bank negotiated between the PA and Israel rather than carried out unilaterally. The survey also finds that 56% of Israelis support the evacuation of both settlements and the army from parts of the West Bank, compared to 41% who oppose such a pullout. However the same poll finds that 56% of Israelis oppose the evacuation of settlements in the West Bank without the evacuation of the army, as Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert envisions the next large-scale West Bank pullback, compared to 41% who favor such a move. The Israeli and Palestinian poll, which was conducted earlier this month among 1270 Palestinians and 603 Israelis, has a margin of error of 3% and 4% respectively.

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