An Israeli-Palestinian poll conducted by Hebrew University’s Truman Institute and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that 50% of the Israelis support negotiations with Hamas, and 62% reject the release of the Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi.
The poll revealed that the public support for Sharon in increasing and that the majority of the Israelis believe that Sharon’s split from the Likud will increase the chances for achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians.
On the Palestinian side, only 20% believe that Sharon’s resignation from the Likud will be useful for arriving to a peace deal.
According to the poll results, 50% of the Israelis believe that Israel should negotiate with Hamas if this step will lead to arriving to a peace deal with the Palestinians.
64% of the Israelis support a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians on the basis set by the former US president Bill Clinton. The pull revealed less support for the plan among the Palestinians, 46% supported it; while on September 2004 54% of the Palestinians supported the plan.
Only 34% of the Israelis support the release of the jailed legislator and Fateh leaders, Marwan Barghouthi.
Dr. Yacov Shamir, who supervised the survey, said that the main finding is the increasing support for negotiating with Hamas.
“Fifty percent of Israelis polled in mid-December by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem would support talks with Hamas if this was necessary to reach a peace deal, while 47 percent would be opposed”, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported.
Hamas has made a strong showing in Palestinian municipal ballots in recent months. Opinion polls put its strength at around 30 percent ahead of elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council on January 25.
"This shows an Israeli awareness of what is going on in the Palestinian public, and that Hamas is serious about its intention to play a role in Palestinian politics," Shamir said. "We cannot really prevent this, and the public understands this fact"
Shamir compared Israel’s objections to dialogue with Hamas to the country’s decades-long ban on talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization before the 1993 Oslo Accords.
"The process will be shorter this time", Shamir said.
Hamas is officially opposed to talks with Israel, but some leaders have recently suggested that negotiations might not be ruled out.
Some 80% of the Palestinians and Israelis support renewing the ceasefire between the two sides, while 81% of the Palestinians expressed support for merging resistance fighters into the Palestinian security devices.
53% said that resistance factions should be disarmed and merged into the P.A security devices.
Referring to the political environment in Israel, and the upcoming Knesset elections, 72% of the Israelis said that Ariel Sharon will be able to convince the Israelis to accept a peace deal with the Palestinians. 29% said that Labor party chairman Amir Peretz, will be able to do so.
33% of the Israelis believe that Peretz is more effective in solving social and economical issues in Israel, while 29% favored Sharon, and 16% favored Netanyahu.
60% of the Israelis said that Sharon is the only leader who is capable of running Israel’s security and foreign affairs effectively, 19% favored Netanyahu and 12% supported Peretz.
Also, 46% of the Israelis said that Sharon’s split from the Likud increases the chances for achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians, while 5% said that this move reduced the chances, and 41% said that Sharon’s resignation from the Likud does not effect this issue.
On the Palestinian side, 20% believe that Sharon’s resignation from the Likud and forming his new party will increase the chances of arriving to a peace deal.
The poll sample included 600 Israelis and 1316 Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.