Fmr. Meretz rep.: Jerusalem in PA hands
will become like Gaza
New York A major new Israeli poll by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution of Tel Aviv University (October 8-10) has shown that a clear majority of Jewish Israelis — 59% to 33% — oppose, even in return for a peace agreement, Israel handing over to Mahmoud Abbas Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) various Arab neighborhoods in the eastern half of Jerusalem. The poll also found that only a majority of Israeli Jews (57% to 39%) believe that the upcoming conference in Annapolis has no chance of clarifying the outstanding issues between Israel and the PA. Additionally, 77% of the Israeli Jewish public lack confidence in the strength of the Olmert government and its ability to negotiate a good agreement with the PA. Even among Olmerts Kadima voters, only 27% are confident in Olmerts ability to negotiate soundly, while among the supporters of Labor, the senior coalition partner, the level of support drops to 20%.
The poll also showed that the Israeli Jewish public remains overwhelmingly opposed to any implementation of the legally and morally baseless Palestinian demand of a so-called right of return — 87% are totally opposed to the return of even a single refugee (6% are prepared for the return of up to 100,000, and 3% are prepared for whatever number might be decided). Conversely, 53% of Israeli Arabs polled supported the participation of Hamas in the Annapolis conference (Independent Media Review Analysis, October 16).
The idea of dividing Jerusalem that the Olmert government has foreshadowed in recent weeks has led even one far left-wing, former Meretz representative on the Jerusalem City Council, Meir Margalit, to warn that handing over eastern Jerusalem to the control of the PA, coupled with an end to Israeli payments and transfers to its Arab residents, would turn Jerusalem into another Gaza (Haaretz, October 17, translation courtesy of Independent Media Review Analysis, October 17).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, This poll simply confirms the fact that the Israeli public is not supportive of the proposals that the Olmert government has foreshadowed to divide Jerusalem and have little or no confidence in the Olmert government to reach any kind of satisfactory agreement with the PA. The Israeli public seems to understand better than its government that the PA is not a peace-making, moderate regime with whom a deal can be made. The Olmert government has continued to act as though a peace agreement is achievable and as if Abbas and Fatah are genuine peace partners, but the Israeli public — rightly — does not believe them.
On vital, indeed, existential matters of Israels future, where potentially massive concessions are at stake, the Olmert government, which enjoys little confidence from the electorate, should not embark on a program of major, far-reaching and irreversible concessions to the PA. As before, the ZOA believes that only when the PA fulfills its signed 14 year old commitments to arrest terrorists, close the bomb factories and end the incitement to hatred and murder that permeates the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps, should there be any discussions about Israeli concessions.