Most Israelis are in favor of the Annapolis peace conference but doubt it will produce diplomatic progress.
Israel’s two biggest newspapers published surveys Friday indicating deep public skepticism over the potential yield of the Nov. 27 meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab diplomats under the Bush administration’s auspices.
Yediot Acharonot found that 69 percent of Israelis support the conference while 27 percent think it should not go ahead. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they do not believe Annapolis will lead to progress in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, and 22 percent said it might.
Ma’ariv’s survey found widespread Israeli skepticism over the motivations of the main players at Annapolis.
Fifty-three percent of respondents said Olmert, whose popularity plummeted over the Lebanon war and over corruption scandals, is attending in order to shore up his domestic standing. Thirty-eight percent said they believe he wants to make peace.
Asked by Ma’ariv’s pollsters if they think Abbas wants coexistence rather than the destruction of Israel, 48 percent of respondents said yes and 46 percent said no. Though he has stepped up rapprochement efforts with Israel since the Islamist Hamas routed his Fatah faction from Gaza in June, Abbas has resisted Olmert’s calls to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The Yediot and Maariv surveys each had 500 respondents, and margins of error of 4.5 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.