Seventy percent of the Israeli Jewish public presently supports a peace agreement with the Palestinians based on the "two states for two peoples" formula, but a clear majority believes that this is not achievable in the near future.

The Peace Index poll carried out last week showed that 26.5 percent of Israeli Jews oppose such an agreement.

Asked whether they believed it possible to reach an agreement based on this formula in the near future, 39 percent replied that it is possible and 55 percent that it is not.

More than 60 percent of respondents also said they opposed the concept of a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for full peace treaty with Syria.

When respondents were asked who among the leaders of the three large parties could, in the public's view, best safeguard Israel's security interests while advancing the chances for peace, the findings showed 38 percent of the Israeli Jewish public favoring Benjamin Netanyahu, 24 percent Ehud Barak and 5.5 percent Ehud Olmert. Twenty-four percent of the public rejects all three and the rest (8.5 percent) have no clear position on the matter.

The prevailing pessimistic assessment of the chances of the two-state formula is apparently linked to the fact that about half the public thinks the Mahmoud Abbas government will be unable to prevent a Hamas takeover of the West Bank even if it receives assistance from Israel and other countries (43 percent of people think it will be able to prevent it and the rest do not know).

Despite and perhaps because of this, 54 percent support providing assistance to the Abbas government (compared to 41 percent who oppose it and 5 percent who do not know). The overwhelming majority (67 percent), however, would condition such assistance on the Abbas government fulfilling the Israeli government's prior demands such as recognizing Israel and putting a stop to terrorism. Only 22.5 percent support assistance without conditions, 4 percent oppose it under any conditions, and the rest do not know.

As for the types of assistance, a majority supports releasing the frozen Palestinian funds (54.5 percent in favor, 39 percent against) but a larger majority opposes providing weapons (79 percent) and removing checkpoints (71 percent).

Regarding prisoner releases as well, the rate of opponents (54 percent) is higher than that of supporters (39 percent). As for humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in Gaza by allowing the provision of medicine, foods, and other essential items, a clear majority of 58 percent thinks Israel should do so even on the assumption that such aid is likely to strengthen the Hamas government there, with 40 percent opposed.

On the Syrian issue, the occasional reports of Bashar Assad's readiness to reach a peace agreement with Israel apparently have not affected the Israeli Jewish public's consistent opposition to full withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for a full peace treaty, with rates of opposition and support at 63 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Fourteen percent are ambivalent and the rest do not know. The opposition to an agreement seems to stem, at least in part, from the near-unanimous (85 percent) assessment that Syria would not be prepared, in return for the Golan, to cut off its relations with Iran and end its support for Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations whose leaders are based in Damascus.

The Peace Index Project is conducted at the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution of Tel Aviv University, headed by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann. The telephone interviews were conducted by the B. I. Cohen Institute of Tel Aviv University on June 26-27, 2007, and included 580 interviewees who represent the adult Jewish and Arab population of Israel (including the territories and the kibbutzim). The sampling error for a sample of this size is 4.5%