More than three in four Israelis do not believe President Bush’s visit will bring progress toward peace, a poll found.
A day into Bush’s first presidential visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Yediot Achronot published a survey Thursday suggesting low public optimism over his peacemaking mission.
Seventy-seven percent of Israelis do not believe Bush will bring diplomatic progress, as compared to 21 percent who do, the poll found. Two percent of respondents had no comment.
Most Israelis also were not persuaded by media theories that Bush’s visit is designed to shore up Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s domestic standing ahead of the publication of a commission of inquiry’s final report on the failings of the Second Lebanon War.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said the visit would have no effect on Olmert’s prospects, 38 percent said it would bolster the Israeli leader and 3 percent said it would weaken him.
The poll had 500 respondents and a 4.5 percent margin of error.
Settlement outposts “ought to go,” President Bush said in a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
“In terms of outposts, yeah, they ought to go,” Bush said on the start of his first visit to Israel in his seven years as U.S. president. He was responding to a reporter’s question about West Bank settlements established without Israeli government authorization. “Look, we’ve been talking about it for four years.”
Olmert appeared taken aback by Bush’s bluntness, which came moments after Olmert said “the president didnâ€™t ask for me to make any commitments other than the ones that Israel made already regarding the peace process.”
Olmert has modified Israel’s view on the role of settlement expansion in the Bush-initiated “road map” peace process. His predecessor, Ariel Sharon, argued with the Americans that Israel’s actions on settlements would come after Palestinians demonstrated an ability to prevent terrorism. Olmert has said Israel’s obligation to stop settlement expansion is not contingent on Palestinian measures.
U.S. officials had hoped that Olmert would have taken some measures to dismantle outposts before the Bush visit. Olmert quickly reassured Bush that he will address the outposts.
“We have no interest in delaying matters,” he said.
Olmert also said that Israel would continue to build in east Jerusalem and in the larger settlements near Jerusalem, which he said do not come under the purview of the road map.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.