Israelis, Palestinians ‘back two-state’

Israelis, Palestinians ‘back two-state’

Israelis, Palestinians ‘back two-state’

A religious leader together with others release a dove in Jerusalem’s old city. A poll revealed that majority of Israelis and Palestinians back two-state deal. REUTERS photo

The majority of Israelis and Palestinians support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel but remain suspicious of the other side, according to a poll released on Jan. 1.

The survey was released hours before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s return to the region. In the poll, 63 percent of 601 Israelis and 53 percent of 1,270 Palestinians surveyed said they back a two-state solution. Support dropped to 54 percent and 46 percent, respectively, when respondents were asked about specifics of a two-state deal.

The Israeli poll, by an Israeli university, had an error margin of 4.5 percentage points. The Palestinian survey, by a West Bank think tank, had an error margin of 3 percentage points. Kerry hopes to narrow differences between Israelis and Palestinians in peace talks this week that are intended to guide the sides toward a deal in April, a senior State Department official said Dec. 31.

Israel and Palestinians resumed peace talks in July after a three-year break aimed at producing a peace agreement within nine months to end their decades-old conflict.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Kerry did not expect a breakthrough during his visit but is pushing for the sides to agree on a framework of core principles, such as security, the future of Jerusalem and fate of refugees, as soon as possible. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that his side would take “diplomatic and legal” action against Israel in order to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements on land the Palestinians want for their future state.

“We will not remain patient as the settlement cancer spreads, especially in (annexed Arab east) Jerusalem, and we will use our right as a U.N. observer state by taking political, diplomatic and legal action to stop it,” he said.