More than half of Israelis and Palestinians support
an unofficial peace proposal that includes
unprecedented compromises for both sides,
according to a poll published Sunday.
The Geneva Accord, worked out
by former Israeli and
calls for the formation of a
Palestinian state in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip, the
return of Palestinian
refugees to that state - but
not to Israel - and the
division of Jerusalem between
the two states.
Pollsters read a summary of the agreement to
Israelis and Palestinians, and found that 53
percent of the Israelis and almost 56 percent
of the Palestinians support it. Almost 44
percent of Israelis and 39 percent of
Palestinians said they would oppose such a
The summary did not specifically include the
fact that a hotly disputed site in the Old City
of Jerusalem - where the Al Aqsa Mosque
compound sits atop the ruins of the biblical
Jewish Temples - would be under Palestinian
sovereignty. Instead, it said, "Each side would
govern its holy sites."
There is considerable opposition in Israel to
ceding the site, Judaism's holiest, in a peace
The poll covered 610 Israeli citizens by
telephone, and 631 Palestinians, interviewed in
person. The poll quoted a margin of error of
four percentage points.
"This poll is a timely reminder of the fact that
majorities on both sides are prepared to
embrace an agreement that meets their
respective core aspirations and interests,"
said Edward Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador
to Israel and Syria and director of the
Texas-based Baker Institute for Public Policy,
which conducted the poll together with the
International Crisis Group in Washington,
working for conflict prevention and
The group of Israeli and Palestinian officials
who worked out the deal in meetings over two
years have been distributing it among their
populations, hoping to win support.
Israel's government has categorically rejected
the plan, while the Palestinian Authority has
shown some interest.