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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 31, 2003

Poll finds Israeli support for peace moves


If a majority accepts a "temorary Palestinian state," why not a temporary removal of settlements?
A majority of Israelis support a temporary Palestinian state, a freeze on settlement construction and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, according to a poll published Friday, a day after Palestinian and Israeli leaders met to discuss a new peace plan for the Mideast.

The Ma'ariv-Gal Hehadash poll in the Ma'ariv daily newspaper showed that 59 percent of Israelis support a freeze on settlement building in the territories, while 57 percent support establishing a temporary Palestinian state.

These are key measures in the first and second phases, respectively, of the internationally backed ''road map'' to peace.

The poll also showed that 62 percent of Israelis support an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza while 32 percent opposed it.

The poll was published a day after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas held their second meeting in two weeks to discuss the peace plan.

The first phase of the plan requires declarations by each side recognizing the rights of the other to statehood and security. The plan also begins with a halt to the violence; it leads to a full-fledged Palestinian state in 2005.

Last week, Sharon shocked members of his right-wing Likud party when he declared that Israel needs to end its ''occupation'' of Palestinians, a word that angers Israeli hawks who believe Israel has a legitimate claim -- whether through biblical roots or strategic need -- to the West Bank and Gaza.

According to the poll, most Israelis don't believe Sharon has had a change of heart.

When asked if Sharon's statement about ending the ''occupation'' reflects his true position, only 25 percent of those polled said yes, while 67 percent said he made the statement for public-relations reasons.