Most Israelis back renewed settlement building

JERUSALEM — A slight majority of Israelis support the resumption of settlement construction in the occupied West Bank when a partial moratorium expires later this month, a poll published on Tuesday found.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 14 Sep 2010, 2:57 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:32 AM

The poll by the Dahaf Institute found pessimism running high as the Israeli and Palestinian leaders gathered in Egypt for a second round of direct peace talks, which could collapse if a dispute over settlement building is not resolved in the next fortnight.

The Palestinians have repeatedly said they will walk out if Israel does not extend the moratorium, while Israel’s right-wing government is strongly opposed to any further restrictions on settlement construction.

Just over half — 51 per cent — of those surveyed thought Israel should resume construction when the freeze expires on September 26, while 39 per cent said it should be extended, the poll found.

However, 42 per cent said they would support a compromise whereby Israel would only build in major settlement blocs, with 32 per cent saying construction should be fully renewed and 20 per cent favouring a “comprehensive” freeze.

A strong majority of 71 per cent did not believe the current round of talks would lead to a peace agreement, while 68 per cent believed the resumption of settlement construction would derail the negotiations, the poll found.

Israelis were nearly evenly divided when asked if they would accept a peace deal where Israel withdrew from most of the occupied territories in exchange for Palestinian recognition of it as a Jewish state, with 45 per cent in favour and 48 per cent opposed.

The poll was based on interviews with 501 Israelis and had a margin of error of 4.5 per cent, the institute said.

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