Israelis, Palestinians down on talks


Most Israelis and Palestinians see no point to the current round of peace negotiations, a survey found.

A joint poll issued Thursday by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah found that 55 percent of Israelis and 68 percent of Palestinians believe talks between their respective leaders, Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, are going nowhere and should be suspended.

President Bush is the chief sponsor of the Olmert-Abbas talks and has called for an accord to be in place before he steps down in January, but both sides have hinted they see the deadline as unrealistic given ongoing disputes.

The survey also showed both sides are dissatisfied with Egyptian efforts to broker a Gaza truce.

In Israel, the initiative has only minority support because it remains unclear whether Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas for nearly two years, would be released as part of a cease-fire. Most Palestinians say they would support a truce, but on condition that it extends to the West Bank, which Israel has ruled out.

The survey had 1,006 Israelis respondents and 1,270 Palestinian respondents. It had a 3 percent margin of error.

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