'Most Israelis oppose J'lem concessions'

Poll shows 59% believe Olmert negotiating division of the city, despite government's denials.

temple mount 224.88 (photo credit: Areil Jerozolimski [file])
temple mount 224.88
(photo credit: Areil Jerozolimski [file])
Seventy-one percent of Israelis oppose a peace deal that would entail handing over Jerusalem's Old City and Temple Mount to the Palestinians, a new poll released by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on Sunday says. The results also show that 59% of those polled believe Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is negotiating a division of the city, despite the government's denials. The BESA Center surveyed 510 adult Israeli Jews between March 19-27 as part of a comprehensive poll that surveyed Israeli opinion on the political future of Jerusalem in advance of a broad-ranging conference this week entitled "Are We Truly Safeguarding Jerusalem?" "The public feels that the Palestinians are after more than the Old City in Jerusalem, and fears that they will continue to attack Israel even if a deal over the city is reached," said BESA Center Director Prof. Efraim Inbar in response to the results. "As such, there is little support for the Olmert government's negotiating effort. Indeed, Olmert does not have a public mandate for far-reaching concessions in Jerusalem. The poll also indicates that many Israelis are prepared for long term continued struggle in order to maintain Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem." Other results of the poll found that 62% of respondents were against Jerusalem's status being discussed in the framework of negotiations for peace with the Palestinians. Thirty-three percent were in favor or "possibly in favor" of discussing Jerusalem's status during such negotiations. Notwithstanding, 71% of the poll's respondents felt that Israel should not agree to give up the city's Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinians, including the Old City and the Temple Mount, in return for a final status agreement with the Palestinians and a declaration calling an end to the conflict with the Arab world. Twenty-one percent believed that, under such circumstances, Israel should or might have to agree to hand the Palestinians control of the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount. Seventy-one percent also felt that the question of dividing Jerusalem should be brought to a referendum before any agreement with the Palestinians is signed. Sixty-one percent believed that there was "no chance whatsoever" or "very little chance" that the Palestinians would cease to make demands upon Israel with respect to Jerusalem, and 69% believed that there was no chance whatsoever or very little chance that Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli targets would cease. Fifty-six percent believed that any part of Jerusalem handed over to the Palestinians was "likely" or "very likely" to serve as a base for terrorist acts against Israel. Slightly more than half (51%) of respondents believed that there was"no chance whatsoever" or "very little chance" that the Palestinians would safeguard the holy places sacred to all religions. Forty-four percent of respondents believed that opposition to the agreement was likely or very likely to ignite violent confrontations across the country. Among those opposed to a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians involving transferring control of the city's Arab neighborhoods, the Old City and the Temple Mount, 42% intended to express their objection at the ballot box during elections or a referendum, 22% intended to show their objection by taking part in demonstrations and identification rallies without resorting to violence, and 20% intended to voice their objection in conversations and meetings with family and friends. One-tenth of those opposed to any such agreement intended to give vent to their disapproval of the agreement by taking part in demonstrations and identification rallies and resorting to violence. Forty-eight percent of respondents believed that the opinion of the Diaspora Jews need not be taken into account before signing any agreement concerning the future of Jerusalem, whereas 38% believed that their opinion should be considered.