Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (left), with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
A new poll shows that 70 percent of Israelis favor peace with the Palestinians along the lines of a two-state solution, but only 39 percent think peace will be achieved in the near future. Meanwhile, a majority of Israelis favor strengthening ties with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah regime in the West Bank.
The prevailing pessimistic assessment of the chances of the two-state formula is apparently linked to the fact that about half the public thinks the Mahmoud Abbas government will be unable to prevent a Hamas takeover of the West Bank even if it receives assistance from Israel and other countries (43 percent of people think it will be able to prevent it and the rest do not know).
Despite and perhaps because of this, 54 percent support providing assistance to the Abbas government (compared to 41 percent who oppose it and 5 percent who do not know). The overwhelming majority (67 percent), however, would condition such assistance on the Abbas government fulfilling the Israeli government’s prior demands such as recognizing Israel and putting a stop to terrorism. Only 22.5 percent support assistance without conditions, 4 percent oppose it under any conditions, and the rest do not know.
As for the types of assistance, a majority supports releasing the frozen Palestinian funds (54.5 percent in favor, 39 percent against) but a larger majority opposes providing weapons (79 percent) and removing checkpoints (71 percent).