Survey: Most U.S. Jews support Hebron deal as well as U.S. role

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (JTA) — A new survey has found that 64 percent of American Jews “strongly or somewhat” support the recent agreement on Israeli troop redeployment in Hebron. More than 80 percent support the role played by the Clinton administration in that accord, according to the survey by the Israel Policy Forum. Indeed, the survey found overwhelming support — more than 90 percent — for an active U.S. role in world and Middle Eastern affairs overall. The poll of 700 American Jews measured attitudes toward the U.S. role in the peace process. It was conducted earlier this month by Penn + Schoen Associates and had a margin of error of 3.7 percent. The Israel Policy Forum, an organization that promotes the peace process, commissioned the survey after the Hebron agreement in which U.S. diplomacy was especially intense. “We wanted to understand Jewish reaction” to the “qualitatively different role” played by the United States, said Jonathan Jacoby, IPF executive vice president. “It is clear that there is very strong support for an active American role” in the peace process and “very little concern about the U.S. overstepping its bounds.” That, he said, appears to stem from the conviction that the United States sometimes must increase its involvement “to keep the ball rolling.” In the survey findings: * Only 24 percent said the United States should “support Israel no matter what decisions it makes concerning the peace process.” * Thirty percent said the United States should actively “encourage Israel and its government during the peace process.” * Forty-one percent said the United States should “wait and see what Israel does before deciding whether to encourage” the government in the peace process. * Roughly 80 percent supported a continued active U.S. role in negotiations with Palestinians and in any renewed talks with the Syrians. The survey also found that 68 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while 38 percent had a favorable view of Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat. Thirty-seven percent said they were Reform, 32 percent Conservative, 7 percent Orthodox and 4 percent Reconstructionist.

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