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Polls Show Support for Israeli Policy, and for Independent Palestinian State

Two polls released this week show that Americans support both the Palestinian demand for a state and Israel’s policy of targeted killing of Palestinian militants.

A survey by the fledgling America Middle East Information Network, or AMEIN, found that almost 75 percent of respondents felt Israel was justified in killing terrorists if it had proof they were planning bombings or other attacks that could kill Israelis.

According to the poll, 43 percent said Israel was “definitely justified” in the killings and 30 percent said “probably justified”; only 16 percent said Israel was not justified.

About 70 percent of respondents said Israel was justified in killing someone they had proof “carried off a terrorist act that killed Israelis and plans to strike again.”

Some 36 percent of respondents said the use of force is acceptable as a preventative measure against terrorist attacks. Another 32 percent said Israel should limit its response to increased security, and 15 percent said Israel should concede to Palestinian demands.

The poll also found that 32 percent felt Israel’s recent actions were in self defense, 20 percent viewed them as warfare and 13 percent called them terrorism. Palestinian actions were deemed terrorism by 31 percent of the respondents, warfare by 24 percent and self defense by 11 percent.

The poll was conducted earlier this month by Luntz Research Companies and the Global Strategy Group, and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Cliff May, AMEIN’s spokesman, said the poll debunks the common editorial position that Americans oppose Israel’s targeted killings.

“The poll overwhelmingly shows that Americans get it,” May said. “It’s justified, when attacked by terrorists, to use force to attack terrorists.”

A non-partisan, multi-ethnic organization, AMEIN was formed recently with a private donation and is dedicated to increasing communication and education toward peace in the Middle East, May said.

A separate poll commissioned by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee found that 73 percent of American voters supported the idea of a Palestinian state, and 96 percent believed Israelis and Palestinians “are equal people entitled to equal rights.”

The poll found that 44 percent of respondents believed the Palestinians rejected the peace offer proposed last summer at Camp David because it did not provide the Palestinians with land to form an independent state or other essential needs. About 27 percent said the Palestinians rejected a generous Israeli offer at Camp David, and 29 percent were unsure.

Almost 80 percent of respondents said both Israelis and Palestinians were to blame for the breakdown of the Middle East peace process, with 12 percent citing the Palestinians specifically and 4 percent citing the Israelis.

The poll also found that the unfavorable ratings for both the Palestinian Authority and its president, Yasser Arafat, were above 60 percent, while Palestinians in general received a 39 percent favorable rating. About 18 percent of respondents viewed Arafat favorably, with 16 percent having a favorable view of the Palestinian Authority.

Almost 30 percent of respondents rated Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon favorably, with 20 percent saying unfavorable and 48 percent unfamiliar with him. The only figures to receive larger “not familiar” percentages were Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The Israeli government received a 43 percent favorable rating, while Israelis in general received 60 percent favorable ratings.

American leaders received the best ratings, with Secretary of State Colin Powell reaching an 85 percent favorable score, and President Bush deemed favorable by 65 percent.

The ADC poll was conducted by Zogby International in July and has a margin of error of 3.2 %.

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