Poll: 55% of Israelis want deal with PA

'New Wave' survey finds most support increased US involvement, 10% back negotiating with Hamas.

Over half of the Israeli population, some 55 percent, supports holding negotiations with Palestinians with the aim of reaching a permanent agreement, according to a 'New Wave' poll commissioned by the Geneva Institute. Sixteen percent disagreed with talks aiming for such a deal, saying that only an interim, or limited agreement should be sought, while 68% of respondents said they supported increasing US involvement in such talks. The findings of the survey, released on Thursday, showed that 23% felt that the selection of Barack Obama for the US Presidency increased the chances of reaching permanent agreement in the Middle East, while 16% believed the likelihood of a deal was lessened by the choice. 39% said the choice of US president would make no different to a Middle East peace agreement. In terms of the Palestinian people, 46% of respondents said they would prefer the next Israeli government negotiate with the Palestinian Authority with the aim of coming to a permanent agreement, as opposed to 18% that backed the government negotiating with Syria. A further 21% said they would prefer the government hold talks with both the PA and Syria, while 10% prefer negotiating with Hamas over the PA. The poll, taken on January 10-12, during IDF Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, found that a solid 73% of the general public oppose any negotiations with Hamas, up 18% from July 2008, when only 55% opposed. Regarding the operation itself, 43% were of the opinion that the offensive increased the chances of a permanent agreement with the Palestinians. 22% disagreed, saying the operation lessened the chances of such an agreement. Some 25% of respondents said the operation made no difference to the chances of reaching a permanent agreement.