Israelis still reject dividing Jerusalem

Sunday, August 03, 2008 |  Ryan Jones

The results of a new public opinion poll show that most Israelis still oppose surrendering the eastern half of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, even if control of the city is the last remaining obstacle to a final status peace agreement.

Over 61 percent of Israeli Jewish respondents said that Jerusalem must not be divided under any circumstances. That was also once the prevailing sentiment in Israel's halls of power, and Israel's Basic Law even contains clauses forbidding the surrender of any portion of Jerusalem.

But the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made convincing the Israeli pubic of the need to part with the eastern half of Jerusalem a focus over the past month. Olmert and Israeli President Shimon Peres have even exploiting recent terrorist attacks in the city to make the point that Israel should disengage from the capital's large Arab population.

It has been suggested that the Olmert government purposely removed the police presence in Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods to allow an increase in terror as a tactic to convince Israelis to cut loose parts of their ancient capital.

If that is true, the new poll results suggest the prime minister's scheme is not having the desired effect.

The poll was conducted by the War and Peace Index, a survey project funded by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Studies and the Evans Program for Conflict Resolution Research of Tel Aviv University.

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