Survey Finds American Jews Strongly Support Peace Pact

American Jews strongly support recent Israeli moves toward peace, according to a survey sponsored by the American Jewish Committee.

By more than 5-to-1 margins, a sample of American Jews supported the mutual recognition pact signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the accord that will grant Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho.

But questioned on further Israeli compromises — both those mandated by the signed accord and those likely to follow in the negotiations with Syria — those polled were much less supportive.

The poll was conducted Sept. 20-26 by Market Facts, a public-opinion research organization. The sample size was 1,009, and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Supporters of the way the Israeli government has handled the peace negotiations outnumbered opponents, by roughly 84 percent to 9 percent, with 8 percent unsure.

Ninety percent considered the Israel-PLO recognition agreement a positive development for Israel.

The autonomy plan was supported by 74 percent of respondents, with 13 percent opposing and 13 percent unsure.

In a surprising finding, 57 percent favored the establishment of a Palestinian state, with 30 percent opposed. And yet only 43 percent supported extending autonomy to all of the West Bank, while 34 percent were opposed.

“What you see here is ambiguity,” said David Singer, director of research for the AJCommittee.

“People have been asked to absorb a new reality that’s absolutely mind-boggling.

“There’s a sense that if the Israelis have done this, who am I to think this isn’t a positive thing, while at the same time, many of the old fears remain,” he said.

MOST OPPOSE COMPROMISE ON JERUSALEM

The results of this poll in fact mirror those found within Israel by an AJCommittee poll conducted there earlier in September.

Singer noted that despite the overwhelming support for the PLO accord, the American survey found that, by a margin of 42 percent to 34 percent, the PLO was not trusted to honor its agreements and refrain from terrorism.

And 42 percent said they believed the goal of the Arabs is the destruction of Israel. But only 34 percent said that the PLO was determined to destroy Israel.

Regarding Syria, Jewish opinion was split almost evenly between returning none of the Golan Heights, only a small part of it, and some to most of it.

And on the question of Jerusalem, 62 percent of respondents were opposed to any compromise on its status, while 30 percent favored such a move.

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