The majority of the Israeli public does not want to see Judea and Samaria relinquished to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as result of peace talks, according to a survey by the Madgem institute.
The survey, which was featured on the Knesset Channel this week, noted that only 39% of respondents believed that Israel must withdraw in order to attain peace with the Palestinian Arabs. 61% believed otherwise.
In addition, the survey revealed that 70% of the public "cannot relate to (PA Chairman) Mahmoud Abbas as a potential partner for a peace agreement," while 30% of the public believes the opposite.
The PA consistently blames “settlement construction” in the region as being an obstacle to peace, and has demanded that Israel withdraw to 1949 Armistice lines. To that end, Abbas threatened two weeks ago that unless a building freeze was imposed on Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the peace talks would come to an end. The freeze was not previously announced as a precondition to this round of talks.
Abbas has repeatedly said that unless all his preconditions are met, there will be no peace with Israel.
But the Judea and Samaria region is of critical importance to Israel - not only strategically, but historically as the "cradle of Jewish civilization". A partition along the lines of that demanded by the PA would also see the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, as well as the Kotel (Western Wall) handed over to the Palestinian Authority.
The PA has already formally refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state throughout talks, stating that "the Arab states will never recognize a Jewish state."
In addition, the PA Chairman will reportedly only agree to extend talks if Israel allows a "right of return" for Palestinian Arabs, free terrorist leaders, and withdraw from Judea and Samaria.