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Most Israelis oppose peace deal with land swaps, poll finds

August 06, 2013|By Edmund Sanders
  • Palestinian women cross the Qalandia checkpoint, between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, on their way to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Palestinian women cross the Qalandia checkpoint, between the West Bank… (Sebastian Scheiner / Associated…)

JERUSALEM -- In a worrisome sign for U.S.-brokered Mideast peace talks, a poll released Tuesday found that more than half of Jewish Israelis would oppose a peace deal based on terms that have long been seen as the foundation of any resolution, including mutually agreeable land swaps that would allow Israel to keep its major settlements.

The results underscore the political shift to the right of Jewish Israelis as well as a growing intransigence when it comes to making land concessions for peace, pollsters said.

According to the latest Peace Index, conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, 63% of Jewish Israeli respondents said they would not support a permanent peace deal even if it included security arrangements for Israel, the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state, international guarantees, a declaration by Palestinians that the conflict was over and withdrawal to the 1967 borders with territorial swaps.

When specifically told that Israel could keep its major West Bank settlement blocs as well as Maale Adumim and the city of Ariel, 58% said they were still opposed.

About half said they opposed a deal that would include the transfer of Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to Palestinian control with “special arrangements” for the Old City holy places.

More than 76% said they opposed allowing even a “small number” of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel, with financial compensation for the rest.

Such terms, often called the “Clinton parameters” after former President Clinton, have been the cornerstone of two-state negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians for more than a decade.

But although many polls find that a majority of Israelis voice support for the idea of a two-state solution, when queried in the latest poll about specifics, the support quickly evaporated.

The trend raises questions about the assumptions many in the U.S. and Israel have long held regarding Israelis’ readiness to accept a peace deal that includes even a partial evacuation of settlements.

Tamar Hermann, senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, said the results point to “an increasing unwillingness to make concessions for peace,’’ which she attributed to the growth in right-leaning populations, including the ultra-Orthodox and West Bank settlers.

The poll also found that most Jewish Israelis said they believe any peace deal that involves evacuating settlements should be submitted to voters in a referendum for approval.

But 49% of Jewish Israelis said their fellow Arab citizens should not be permitted to vote in the referendum, while 46% agreed all Israeli citizens, Jewish and Arab, should be eligible to vote.


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