Most Israelis support the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, but do not really believe that the diplomatic process can yield a peace agreement, according to a poll released Friday. The poll was conducted by the Israel Hayom newspaper in conjunction with New Wave Research.
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel in a continued effort to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table, the survey revealed that nearly 57 percent of respondents supported the effort and would like to see the talks revived, while 28.6% opposed the talks.
Interestingly, 69.3% of the respondents, most of whom presumably supported resumption of talks, opposed offering the PA any goodwill gestures such as the release of prisoners, easing of travel restrictions and the like. Only 19.5% of respondents were in favor of such gestures, while 11.1% of respondents said they did not know.
When asked what the one thing Israel must never relinquish in talks should be, the answers were slightly more varied. The largest group of responders -- 35.5% -- thought the one thing Israel must never do is divide Jerusalem, while 30.3% were most opposed to giving PA Arabs the right of return, which would see Israel being flooded by millions of Arabs. Another 17.6% said that Israel must refrain from handing over all the territories, while 7% were most opposed to handing over the so-called “settlement blocs.”
Ultimately, however, 55.4% of respondents did not believe that a permanent peace agreement was even possible, while 30.9% said that they did believe it was possible.
The poll was conducted on June 26, 2013 among a representative sample of 500 respondents from the Jewish, Hebrew-speaking Israeli population. All respondents were aged 18 and older. The margin of error in this poll was 4.4%.
Kerry and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon, their second meeting in 24 hours.
The contents of the meeting were not disclosed, but the two agreed to meet for a third time on Saturday night. Kerry is currently on his fifth trip to the region since taking office, and is trying to get Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table.
On Thursday evening, Kerry and Netanyahu met for more than four hours, soon after Kerry arrived in Israel. The content of that meeting was not made public either, but Channel 10 News quoted members of Kerry’s entourage as saying that the Secretary hopes to convince Israel and the PA to hold a meeting next week attended by representatives from both sides. It is not yet clear whether the meeting will be between Israeli negotiators Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and attorney Yitzhak Molcho and their PA counterpart, Saeb Erekat, or between Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas themselves.
Kerry was in Jordan on Friday where he met with Abbas. Kerry is expected to hold a press conference on Saturday night in which he will summarize his latest visit to the Middle East.
Abbas has refused to talk and has continued to impose preconditions on talks with Israel, including a demand that Israel release terrorists who were jailed before 1993, freeze construction in Judea and Samaria and even present a map of the future Palestinian state before any negotiations take place.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)