More than Half Back Two-State Israel Plan
Support is growing among Israelis and Palestinians for a two-state solution based on mutual recognition, an almost total Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in the 1967 war, division of Jerusalem and an end to the conflict.
A poll published yesterday revealed that 55.6 per cent of Palestinians and 53 per cent of Israelis backed the principles of the Geneva Accords, an unofficial peace plan drafted by the ex-Israeli minister Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, formerly a senior figure in the Palestinian Authority.
A Washington think-tank, the Baker Institute, commissioned the survey, which asked 1,241 Israelis and Palestinians for their views on the peace plan's terms without mentioning it by name. More than half of them approved.
All Israeli voters received a copy of the plan in the post last week and radio advertisements are promoting it. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, and his right-wing supporters insist that diplomacy should be left to governments. But the campaign is gathering momentum.
Israeli voters and commentators are losing faith in Mr Sharon's capacity to fulfil his promise of "peace with security". Even the army Chief of Staff, Lt-Gen Moshe Ya'alon, has admitted that terror will not be defeated by arms alone.
Mr Sharon is taking notice. He expects to meet the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qureia, next week.
But Israeli and Palestinian commentators remain sceptical of Mr Sharon's commitment. The Palestinian minister Ghassan Khatib said: "We'll believe it when we see it."