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Palestinian support for 'two-state' solution drops with Israel defiant on settlement freeze

Palestinian support for a two-state solution is declining, according to a new poll released as Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to continue building in East Jerusalem.

By Staff writer / March 23, 2010

Palestinians have grown more cold to the possibility of a 'two-state' solution after Israel refused to put a freeze on the building of settlements such as this one in East Jerusalem.

Dan Balilty/AP/File

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Comments by Israeli and Palestinian officials today represented an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, and go a long way to explaining why peace talks between the two sides are stalled, if not moving in reverse.

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At the heart of their comments is East Jerusalem, the portion of the holy city that Israel seized from Jordan in the 1967 war and that has in recent years become the frontline – both literally and symbolically – of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Nabil Abu Rudaina, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters on Tuesday that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must agree to a full settlement freeze – including East Jerusalem – or the chance of resumed talks under the auspice of the US would be "at risk." A spokesman for Mr. Netanyahu, who is visiting Washington for the annual meeting of the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC and talks with President Barack Obama, told reporters that the Palestinian demand was "illogical and unreasonable" and could "put the peace negotiations on hold for another year."

Support wanes for two-state solution

But there are already indications the delay is eroding support for the two-state solution, the centerpiece of peace efforts. Peace talks – which have dragged on for decades with continuous territorial losses for Palestinians – have growing numbers of Palestinians giving up hope for one Jewish state and one Palestinian state coexisting between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean.

A joint poll released this week by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that support for the two-state solution among Palestinians dropped from 64 percent in December to 57 percent in early March. That implied shift toward a one-state solution, sometimes referred to as a bi-national state, came after announcements this year for a number of new Israeli housing programs in East Jerusalem.

Nabil Kukali, director of the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, interpreted the results in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. "On the whole, Palestinians support the peace process, but there are some changes in attitudes towards the two-state solution... the Palestinians feel hopeless and they don't think the Israelis will give the Palestinians one meter of their land." About 71 percent of Israelis were found to favor a two-state solution in the poll.

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