A new Israel Hayom poll shows that the vast majority of Israeli Jews believe the newly launched talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are a futile endeavor.
The poll was conducted by New Wave Research on Aug. 14 from a representative and random sample of 500 Hebrew-speaking Jews, aged 18 and up. It had a 4.4 percent margin of error.
Some 79.7% of respondents said the talks would not end with a permanent peace accord that would resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just 6.2% said such an agreement would be reached, and 14.1% said they had no opinion.
In a similar poll in July, 73.1% said negotiations would not lead to a peace agreement, while only 5.3% said the talks would conclude with a deal, and 21.6% had no opinion.
On the question of whether Israel should have agreed to release prisoners as a goodwill gesture alongside the talks, 77.5% said they opposed the move, while 14.2% said they supported the gesture and 8.3% had no opinion.
The poll was conducted a day after Israel released 26 prisoners as part of its phased release of 104 prisoners.
In a similar poll held in July, almost 85% of respondents said they opposed the release of terrorists who had committed deadly attacks, as a means of facilitating peace talks. Some 9.4% said they would support such a move and 5.7% had no opinion. The same survey found that 78.1% of participants believed that such terrorists should not be released even after talks resumed and even if such a move was contingent on progress in the peace process. Some 13.7% supported their release, with 8.2% having no opinion.
Some 62.9% of respondents said they would have preferred it if Israel had announced a settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria, including east Jerusalem, instead of agreeing to a prisoner release. Eleven percent said Israel made the right decision by opting for a prisoner release over a construction moratorium, and 25.8% had no opinion. It should be noted that the respondents were given a hypothetical scenario in which Israel was presented with an either/or choice.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that all key issues were addressed in Wednesday's round of peace negotiations with Israel, including Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, security and prisoners.
Speaking at a joint press conference with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Ramallah, Abbas said, "We can't say that we have achieved or not achieved progress because we are still at the beginning."
He said he was hopeful the peace talks would be successful within the allotted nine-month time frame.
Ban said he was concerned about Israeli settlement building and that it could ultimately prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"I am deeply troubled by Israel's continuing settlement activity in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem," Ban said at the news conference. "The settlement activity is deepening the Palestinian people's mistrust in the seriousness on the Israeli side toward achieving peace. It will ultimately render a two-state solution impossible."
He welcomed Israel's decision to release 26 Palestinian prisoners earlier this week, but also expressed concern for some 5,000 other prisoners, particularly those on hunger strike.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) told Israel Radio that releasing the Palestinian prisoners was a brave decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the face of immense public pressure against the decision, and that Israel expected Abbas to take similar trust-building steps.
Edelstein met with Ban in Jerusalem on Thursday, telling him that the incitement against Israel prevalent in the Palestinian education system must cease.
Ban said the release of prisoners had created a positive atmosphere and impressed upon the Palestinians that Israel was serious. Ban was expected to meet with Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Friday.