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Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Blame Palestinians for Breakdown in Talks

A poll released this morning by The Israel Project (TIP) shows that voters overwhelmingly hold the Palestinian Authority (PA) responsible for the recent breakdown in peace talks and overwhelmingly agree with the stance – emphasized by both the Israeli government and the State Department – that Jerusalem can’t be expected to negotiate with an anticipated unity government that includes the designated terror group Hamas.

The group of 1,595 likely voters was among other things asked to respond to a range of “narrative” questions to evaluate how the public debate over the Palestinian unity agreement was progressing. For each question, they were asked to evaluate the Israeli position and the Palestinian position. The results were not close. Two-thirds of Americans (66%-34%) sided with the Israelis on the how the Palestinians’ move will affect the peace process:

“Israel says that it cannot be expected to negotiate with a government or party that does not recognize its right to exist and seeks to destroy it.” … or …
“The Palestinians say that a unity government of all Palestinians is the first step to lasting peace.”

The same margin sided with the Israelis on the question of why peace talks broke down in the aftermath of the unity announcement:

“Israel says that it can no longer negotiate with the Palestinian Authority now that they are forming a unity government with Hamas. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, “Does he (Abbas) want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace.” Israel points out that Hamas is a designated terrorist organization by the U.S. and many other countries, continues to deny the holocaust, and actively calls for the destruction of Israel. … or …
“The Palestinian Authority spokesperson for President Abbas says, “The choice of unifying the Palestinian people enforces peace, and there is no contradiction whatsoever between reconciliation and negotiations.” The Palestinians declare that Israel which has stolen their land, destroyed their economy, and has pushed young Palestinians to become freedom fighters. Israel should return to the table and negotiate with the entire Palestinian people, including Hamas.

The Daily Beast read the results against the backdrop of an ongoing debate over which side was responsible for the lack of progress generated by a recent nine-month peace push. The outlet quoted Martin Indyk, Secretary of State John Kerry’s special envoy during the effort, blaming the Israelis for engaging in settlement activity and blaming the Palestinians for seeking to ascend to international bodies and forging the unity agreement with Hamas. It also quoted Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz pointing out that while Israeli settlement activity did not violate the terms of the negotiations, the Palestinian move to seek international recognition outside the context of bilateral negotiations quite explicitly did.

The Daily Beast conveyed remarks from TIP’s President and CEO Josh Block on the overall public debate, and on the specific findings of the poll:

“Americans simply don’t buy efforts being made by some to blame the impasse on Israel,” said Block. “It doesn’t matter how old they are, or what party they belong to, voters understand that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas turned his back on peace when he abandoned negotiations, turned to the international community to attack Israel, and announced a unity agreement with the Iran-backed terror group Hamas in the middle of Secretary Kerry’s effort to keep talks going.”

This poll was conducted from May 2-4, 2014, among a national sample of 1595 likely 2014 voters. The interviews were conducted online by Paragon Insights. The data were weighted to approximate a target sample of likely voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, region, annual household income, home ownership status and marital status. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

[Photo: Mark Long via PressTV.com  / YouTube]