68% oppose truce without Schalit

Half of Israelis would oppose cease-fire even with soldier's release; opposition to Golan pullout grows.

Olmert Abbas 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Olmert Abbas 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Most Israelis are against a cease-fire with Hamas if it does not include freeing kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, according to a poll released Thursday by the Hebrew University's Truman Institute. Sixty-eight percent of respondents opposed an agreement without Schalit while 30% said they would support one. The poll also found that 50% of Israelis would oppose a cease-fire even if it included the release of Schalit, who was captured two years ago in a cross-border raid. The poll was carried out between May 27 and June 7 and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. The Hamas-run government in Gaza is demanding the release of 1,000 security prisoners in exchange for Schalit, while Israel has only offered a small fraction of that number. The survey indicates that Israelis are increasingly wary that Hamas would use a cease-fire to regroup and rearm, and that a truce would only push off an inevitable confrontation. The poll, which was carried out together with the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, also reported that 78% of Palestinians support a cease-fire with Israel so long as it includes the handover of the West Bank as part of a Palestinian state. Support drops to around 20% if this clause is excluded. The immediate opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai is another necessary stipulation to ensure a Palestinian majority in support of a truce, the poll found. The survey also showed that a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians don't believe that a Palestinian state will be created within the next five years. Sixty-nine percent of Israelis and 66% of Palestinians believe that the chances of a Palestinian state being established in the next five years are nonexistent or weak. Opposition among Israelis to handing the Golan Heights back to Syria in a peace deal has increased significantly since the announcement last month that negotiations have resumed, according to the poll. The poll said 67 percent of Israelis are against returning the strategic plateau, up from 56% in a March survey. On May 21, Israel and Syria announced the resumption of peace talks after an eight-year break, saying they have been speaking indirectly through Turkish mediators "to achieve the goal of comprehensive peace." AP contributed to this report.