A solid majority of the Israeli public - and among Likud voters - supports Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, according to a Haaretz poll conducted by Dialog under the supervision of Chamille Fuchs. Some 61 percent expressed support for the plan even after the death of Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Of those who support the plan, 36.4 percent were in favor of continuing with its implementation, while negotiating with the Palestinian Authority?s new leadership at the same time, while 25.4 percent said Israel must push ahead with the plan without changing it. This position is widely supported by the voters of Labor, Shinui and Yahad, but also by some 60 percent of the Likud's voters.
Less than one-third of the public, some 29 percent, believes that following Arafat's death the plan should be withheld until a new Palestinian leadership is formed. Most of those who do think so are among the right wing and ultra-Orthodox parties.
This is a positive sign for Sharon, who last week rejected Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal "to reexamine the disengagement plan" until a new Palestinian leadership is formed.
The poll indicates that a decisive majority - some 80 percent of the public - objects to the release of Marwan Barghouti from Israeli prison, if he is elected head of the Palestinian Authority.
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