An overwhelming majority of 87.5% of Israeli Jews believe that the current negotiations with the Palestinians will not lead to a peace agreement, according to a new Israel Hayom poll.
The poll, conducted by New Wave Research, found that only 6% of Israeli Jews think the peace talks will lead to a deal. The respondents were a random pool of 500 Jewish Hebrew-speaking Israelis over the age of 18. It had a margin of error of 4.4%.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday presented Israel and the Palestinians with a "bridging proposal," as he tried to prevent a breakdown of the negotiations that were renewed in July.
Kerry met on Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Kerry was joined by U.S. security adviser Gen. John Allen, who presented both sides with an outline of proposed security arrangements. Kerry later updated Jordan's King Abdullah on the peace talks before holding a second meeting with Netanyahu. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni also attended that meeting.
Kerry was expected to hold further meetings on Friday morning, including one with Finance Minister Yair Lapid. Kerry is also set to meet with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Washington on Sunday.
Kerry's intervention comes a little over halfway through the nine-month window allotted for negotiations. He views a bridging proposal as necessary, given that on a number of core issues, including security arrangements and the status of Jerusalem, both sides have presented uncompromising positions.
On the matter of security arrangements, Israel is insisting on maintaining a military force in the Jordan Valley, while the Palestinians are demanding that there be no Israeli military presence in their future state. The American bridging proposal, according to numerous unofficial sources, is that an Israeli military presence would be defined as temporary.
On the issue of Jerusalem, Israel is demanding that the city remain undivided, while the Palestinians want to establish their capital there. The American bridging proposal is to refer to the city as "Greater Jerusalem," in which a Palestinian capital would be established in Arab neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city.
Officially, all sides involved in the talks are maintaining secrecy, and the public statements made by Netanyahu and Kerry on Thursday contained no details.
"We have always known that this is a difficult, complicated road, and we understand that," Kerry said after meeting with Netanyahu on Thursday. "I believe we are making some progress, and the parties remain committed to this task."
Kerry characterized the security outline presented by Allen as merely "some thoughts." Kerry said he understands the security challenges that Israel faces and remembers the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip that Israel has suffered since it withdrew from there.
"I join with President [Barack] Obama in expressing to the people of Israel our deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel and to the need to find a peace that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state [and] recognizes Israel as a country that can defend itself by itself," Kerry said.
Kerry and Netanyahu appeared to have moved past any tension between the U.S. and Israel in the wake of the Geneva nuclear agreement.
"The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable," Kerry said. "And while occasionally we might have a difference of a tactical measure, we do not have a difference about the fundamental strategy that we both seek with respect to the security of Israel and the long-term peace of this region."
Kerry said Israel's security was at the top of the U.S. agenda in the talks with Iran.
"The United States will do everything in our power to make certain that Iran's nuclear program -- a program of weaponization possibilities -- is terminated," Kerry said. "We will continue to keep our friends in Israel and our friends in the region fully advised as we continue those negotiations [with Iran]."
Netanyahu refrained from issuing further public criticism of the Geneva deal, but said steps must be taken to prevent the collapse of the sanctions against Iran. He emphasized that a final deal with Iran must bring about "the termination of Iran's military nuclear capability."
On the peace talks with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said: "Israel is ready for a historic peace, and it's a peace based on two states for two peoples. It's a peace that Israel can and must be able to defend by itself with our own forces against any foreseeable threat."
"If this process is going to continue, we're going to have to have a continuous negotiation," Netanyahu said. "We don't need artificial crises. I think we don't need finger pointing either. What we need is not grandstanding, but understanding and agreements, and that requires hard and serious work."
The Palestinians, at least outwardly, are continuing to lower expectations and exude pessimism over the talks with Israel.
One Palestinian official told Reuters that the Palestinians had rejected Kerry's ideas for future security arrangements, without giving details of the proposals. The official said the U.S.-proposed arrangements "would only lead to prolonging and maintaining the occupation."
But chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa that this report was "completely incorrect." Erekat stressed that Kerry had not presented a final proposal and that talks would continue.
Abbas did not make a public statement after his meeting with Kerry on Thursday and Erekat said only that the talks with Israel are "difficult and complicated."
However, Israel's Channel 1 reported on Thursday night that, despite the outward pessimism, Palestinian Authority officials have said that significant progress has been made via a clandestine channel. According to the report's source, parallel talks have been held in Washington and an Arab capital, likely Amman.