JERUSALEM, Israel - While Israeli leaders continue to pursue a cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a poll released Thursday shows a large majority in Israel is opposed to such a truce if an agreement doesn't include the release of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Sixty-eight percent of Israelis surveyed by the Truman Institute at Hebrew University oppose a deal that doesn't include Shalit, while 30 percent support it. Half of those surveyed would oppose a cease-fire, even if an agreement included Shalit. Hamas leaders have demanded that the Shalit issue be separate from a temporary cease-fire.
The poll also showed that Israel's citizens are increasingly opposed to giving the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for a peace agreement. Sixty-seven percent said no to a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, while only 22 percent supported it.
In March, the university found 56 percent were opposed to ceding the Golan, indicating that attitudes have hardened since the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that Israel has been conducting secret negotiations with the Syrians through Turkish mediators.
Other findings in the survey reflect pessimism among both Israelis and Palestinians concerning talks between Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Sixty-eight percent of Palestinians and 55 percent of Israelis believe the talks are leading nowhere and should be stopped.
And despite a strong diplomatic push from the United States to forge an agreement for a Palestinian state by the end of the year, 69 percent of Israelis and 66 percent of Palestinians say that chances for a state in the next five years are weak or non-existent.
Source: The Jerusalem Post