Poll: Majority of Israeli Jews oppose prisoner release as gesture to Palestinians

80% of secular, 95% of conservative, orthodox Jews against move, according to poll commissioned by terror victims organization.

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