Both sides prefer final settlement to interim deal - survey

But 58% of Palestinians support state in Gaza Strip and most of West Bank while negotiations continue.

abbas peace 88 (photo credit: )
abbas peace 88
(photo credit: )
Some 58 percent of Israelis and 81% of Palestinians would prefer a comprehensive peace agreement over another interim pact, according to a recent survey. The poll was conducted by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah between December 11 and 16. Respondents were asked to choose between an interim settlement establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and a peace treaty that would resolve all issues, including refugees. However, asked if they would support a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and 80% to 90% of the West Bank followed by negotiations over permanent borders, refugees, holy places in Jerusalem and other issues, 58% of Palestinians asked said "yes" and 37% said "no." Sixty percent of Israelis and 49% of Palestinians support the Quartet's road map peace plan. Support for this plan among both publics continues to decline from a peak of 65% among Israelis and 60% among Palestinians in December 2005. If in order to reach an agreement, Israel has to release former Fatah-Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti - serving five life sentences for five murders - and to negotiate with him, 53% of the Israelis oppose it while 43% support such a step. As for the Arab League (Saudi) plan, also known as the Beirut initiative, 47% of Israelis and 44% of Palestinians said they had never heard of it. After the respondents were briefed on its basic elements, 29% of the Israelis and 59% of the Palestinians supported the Arab League plan compared to 69% and 38%, respectively, who opposed it. The pollsters said the substantial gap in support could be explained by the reference in the plan to UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which states that Palestinian refugees may return to their homes in Israel, if they wish to live in peace with their neighbors. The poll also reported that 59% of Israelis and 85% of Palestinians support the cease-fire agreement in Gaza. Some 85% of Palestinians support extending the agreement to the West Bank. The Palestinian public is split on the effects of the Kassam rocket fire from the Strip, with 48% saying it serves Palestinian interests and 48% saying it damages them. Neither public has high expectations of the cease-fire. Six percent of the Israelis and 19% of the Palestinians said negotiations would resume soon and armed confrontations would stop, 40% of the Israelis and 38% of the Palestinians expect negotiations to resume accompanied by some attacks, 52% of the Israelis and 37% of the Palestinians say the violence will continue and negotiations will not be renewed. Sixty-eight percent of the Israelis support talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas on a final status settlement. Nevertheless, only 46% of the Israelis believe that Abbas and Olmert will be able to reach such an agreement. Sixty-six percent of the Israelis support negotiations with a Palestinian national unity government that includes Hamas. Asked about talking to a Hamas-led government that does not include Fatah, like the current one, 54% of the Israelis support, and 45% oppose, negotiations if they are needed to reach an agreement. A majority of 61% of the Palestinian respondents supports early elections for the PA chairman and legislature, and 37% oppose this. If parliamentary elections were held today, Hamas would receive 36% of the vote and Fatah would receive 42%. Twelve percent would go to other lists and 10% remain undecided. If an election for chairman was held between Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, Abbas would receive 46% of the vote and Haniyeh would receive 45%. Nine percent remain undecided. But if the race was between Barghouti, representing Fatah, and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, Barghouti would receive 57% of the vote and Mashaal would receive 36%. Seven percent remain undecided. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 1,270 adult Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between December 14 and 16. The margin of error was 3%. The Israeli sample comprised 602 adults interviewed by phone in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian between December 11 and 14. The margin of error was 4%. The poll was planned and supervised by Dr. Ya'acov Shamir, of the Truman Institute and the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University, and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. The survey was conducted with the support of the Ford Foundation Cairo office and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Ramallah.