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Poll: Almost half of U.S Jews support Palestinian statehood

WASHINGTON, May 17 (JTA) — Almost as many American Jews as all Americans support the establishment of a Palestinian state, according to two polls released this week. While some 44 percent of 1,000 American Jews polled by the American Jewish Committee support Palestinian statehood, 66 percent said the “goal of the Arabs is not the return of the Occupied Territories, but rather the destruction of Israel.” A Gallup Poll taken earlier this month of all Americans found that 53 percent support Palestinian statehood. In last year’s AJCommittee poll, 42 percent of Jews said they accepted Palestinian statehood. Thirty-nine percent of the Jews surveyed in the poll said Israel should accept a unilateral declaration of statehood as threatened by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Some 21 percent said Israel should break off negotiations if a declaration of statehood was made, while 17 percent said Israel should respond to such a declaration by annexing West Bank lands not yet turned over to the Palestinians. On another key issue in the peace process, 42 percent said Israel should be willing to compromise on Jerusalem’s current status as a united city under Israeli jurisdiction. Some 55 percent oppose any compromise. In last year’s survey, 33 percent favored a compromise on Jerusalem. Other results of the survey of Jewish opinion include: * 88 percent said “conversions performed in Israel by Reform and Conservative rabbis should be recognized as much as Orthodox conversions”; * 78 percent blamed “ultra-Orthodox Israelis” for the increase in tensions between “secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews”; * 88 percent said the Palestinian Authority is not doing enough to implement the agreements with Israel compared with 43 percent who said Israel is not doing enough to implement the same agreements; * 91 percent said the Palestinian Authority is not doing enough to control Palestinian terrorist activity against Israel; * 74 percent said they feel close to Israel; * 76 percent said caring about Israel is a “very important part of my being a Jew”; * 85 percent said Israel continues to need the financial support of American Jews; The poll of 1,000 American Jews was conducted by telephone between March 29 and April 18 and has a margin of error of plus of minus 3 percent. Results of the Gallup poll of American opinion include: * 86 percent said Israel as a country is vital to U.S. interests; * 42 percent said they want Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-elected while 31 percent would like to see someone new elected; * 34 percent hold a favorable view of Netanyahu while 20 percent hold an unfavorable view; * 26 percent view Arafat favorably; 44 percent hold an unfavorable view. The Gallup telephone poll of 1,025 was conducted May 7 to 9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. A smaller sampling of 501 Americans, with a 5 percent margin of error, showed that support for the creation of a Palestinian state remains virtually unchanged at 53 percent since the Israelis and Palestinians signed the Oslo accords in 1993.