The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has taken to task former President Jimmy Carter and other pundits who have attempted to bolster their argument for recognizing Hamas and negotiating with it by claiming that an Israeli poll shows that Israelis themselves support negotiations with Hamas. This claim is untrue: polls reveal that Israelis oppose recognizing or negotiating with Hamas. A March 4, 2008 Maagar Mohot Survey shows that 54% of Israelis prefer war against Hamas over a ceasefire deal, with 36% disagreeing (Angus Reid Global Monitor, ‘Polls & Research Israelis Reject Ceasefire Deal with Hamas,’ March 11, 2008).
Additional polls show that Israelis do not even wish to negotiate a peace agreement with Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA), let alone Hamas. A May 2007 Dahaf Institute poll for the Knesset Channel found that 53% oppose withdrawals from Judea and Samaria even in return for a “real peace,” while a May 2007 INSS (previously the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies) poll showed that 58% of Israelis reject the ‘land-for peace’ formula.
The Haaretz poll cited by Carter and others shows that 64% of Israelis favored talks with Hamas only for the purpose of attempting to obtain the release of kidnapped Israeli reservists and to secure a ceasefire, not for any other purpose. Yet, in recent weeks, Carter and others have omitted this fact and thus mislead the American and wider public into believing that a majority of Israelis favor recognizing and negotiating peace with Hamas:
- Jimmy Carter: “a recent poll of Israelis showed 64 percent favored direct talks between Israel and Hamas” (Jimmy Carter, ‘Pariah Diplomacy,’ New York Times, April 28, 2008).
- “[John McCain] ridicules Obama for having been ‘endorsed’ by Hamas–an unworthy cheap shot distorting sympathetic comments expressed by a Hamas official. Yet the idea is a far cry from appeasement. In a Haaretz poll in February, 64% of Israelis themselves said they favored talking to Hamas” (Scott Macleod, ‘Obama: Appeasement or Engagement?‘ Time magazine blog, May 16, 2008).
Additionally, the results of that Haaretz poll are contradicted by a poll conducted the same month by the Tel Aviv University’s Peace Index, under the supervision of professors Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann, which found that a clear majority of Israelis 71% say Israel should not accept Hamas’ offer to stop the fire in return for Israel ceasing its attacks in Gaza and its pursuit of Hamas leaders
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The misleading suggestion made by former President Carter and others in recent weeks that a majority of Israelis favor negotiations with Hamas is clearly part of a campaign to legitimize Hamas and what better way to do that than to tell people that even the Israeli public favors talking with it? But the evidence clearly shows that President Carter and others have some explaining to do.”