Most Israelis back a peace deal, poll shows

(JTA) — With Israeli-Palestinian talks set to begin, a poll shows that a majority of Israelis would support a final-status agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

The poll, conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Dialog Institute, showed that 39 percent of Israelis would vote for a peace deal if it were brought to a referendum, while 16 percent said they would probably vote for a deal. Twenty percent of respondents would vote against a deal, while 5 percent would likely oppose it. Twenty percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll questioned 511 Israelis and had a 4.3 percent margin of error.

Earlier this week, Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advance a bill requiring that any final-status agreement with the Palestinians be brought to a referendum. Netanyahu also supports the  bill.

On Tuesday, Bennett pledged to continue building in Israeli West Bank settlements.

Bennett is the chairman of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, which won 12 Knesset seats in January’s elections running on a platform of vehement opposition to a Palestinian state.

“We will continue building, and you will see this soon,” Bennett said Tuesday in Shiloh, an Israeli West Bank settlement, according to the Times of Israel. “I am sending the message from here to all the parties in the negotiations: The land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel.”

The Palestinian Authority has long demanded that negotiations come along with a freeze on settlement expansion.

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