Israelis believe Olmert cannot negotiate peace: poll

August 14th, 2008 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv, Aug 14 (DPA) Most Israelis believe their Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lacks the mandate to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians, according to an opinion poll published Thursday. Some 59 percent of Israelis believe it would be better to wait for the next Israeli leader because Olmert does not have the legitimacy to advance negotiations now, the poll indicated.

Olmert is under police investigation over suspicions of corruption and has announced his intention to resign. But he has said he will continue efforts to reach a written framework agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before the end of the year.

The poll was commissioned by the Geneva Initiative, an organisation of leading Palestinian and Israeli intellectuals and dovish politicians, who signed a virtual peace agreement in Geneva in 2003.

The detailed agreement calls for a two-state solution, that would see the establishment of a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza with the Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Palestinians would also get the Arab quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City as well as the Temple Mount/Holy Sanctuary, a compound sacred to both Jews and Muslims which now houses the al-Aqsa mosque but also contains the ruins of the Jewish Biblical Temple.

The Israelis for their part would get the Wailing Wall, the only standing remnant of the temple.

The Geneva Initiative, led by dovish Israeli legislator Yossi Beilin and Palestinian negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo, believes the virtual peace deal would have consensus backing among both Israelis and Palestinians if promoted as a real agreement.

According to Wednesday’s poll, published in Tel Aviv, 49 percent of Israelis currently support the deal.

A large majority of Israelis (74 percent) also believe that lack of progress in the negotiations would be “bad for Israel”.

Most Israelis would like to see stronger American (73 percent) and European (58 percent) involvement in the peace process.

The poll, conducted by the MarketWatch polling institute between July 25 and 26, questioned 600 adult Israelis and had a margin of error of 4 percent.

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