More than half of all Israelis would likely support any peace agreement Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu submitted to a referendum, a poll carried out Wednesday found.
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The poll was conducted four days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement last Friday that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would resume. Following that announcement, Netanyahu, under pressure from his right-wing coalition partners, pledged that he would bring any peace deal to a referendum.
In the survey, 39 percent of respondents said they would support any plan Netanyahu presented, while another 16 percent said they would probably approve such a plan. Five percent said they thought they would vote against it, 20 percent were sure they would vote against it, and 20 percent were undecided.
The survey of 511 respondents was carried out by the Dialog Institute under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University.
Meanwhile, at a meeting Tuesday of the Knesset caucus for the Land of Israel, chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) said he had no objection to negotiations, but they had to be without preconditions. Moreover, "we want to come out of the talks with the settlements preserved, because that's the only way to ensure Israel's security and bring peace and stability."
In response to reports that Netanyahu has agreed to the release 82 Palestinian prisoners who have been in Israeli jails since before the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, Levin said he was "unequivocally opposed" to the move. "It does not matter to me how many years they have been in prison. A murderer has to pay the full price, as punishment and as deterrence."
Levin said he also opposes freezing settlement construction as a gesture, and that construction should begin immediately, "to show them we mean it."
"We were told Tuesday that despite the enormous pressure, the prime minister stood strong and did not agree to restrictions," he added.
At the meeting of the Likud's Knesset faction, Levin reiterated this stance, urging Netanyahu to "release tenders [for construction], not murderers."
Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin also took Netanyahu to task at the caucus meeting over the reports of a prisoner release and a building freeze in the settlements. "The state of Israel will not give up its right to build in Judea and Samaria. It is crooked logic to say that the release of terrorists contributes to peace and the construction of a kindergarten hurts peace," he said.
MK Orit Strock (Habayit Hayehudi) added, "We demand to see proof that there are no preconditions, whether a prisoner release or a building freeze in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria."