Most British Jews want Israel-Hamas talks: survey

15th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A majority of British Jews think Israel should negotiate with the militant Palestinian movement Hamas in a bid for peace, a survey out Thursday said.

The study found that most Jews in Britain favour a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

The survey of 4,081 people, carried out by pollsters Ipsos MORI for the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), says it is the largest single sample ever conducted among Jews in Britain.

It found that British Jews feel a strong affinity with Israel, though a wide range of opinions were held about the Jewish state.

Fifty-two percent think Israel should negotiate with Hamas, a radical Islamist group which does not recognise Israel's right to exist and has been behind scores of deadly bomb attacks, while 39 percent were against talks.

The Israeli government has consistently refused to negotiate with Hamas and has assassinated a number of its top figures, including its wheelchair-bound spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

"Of those who agree, only one-third 'strongly agrees', which suggests that even among those in favour of negotiations with Hamas, a certain degree of caution is being expressed," the study said.

"Secular" respondents were more likely to agree than "religious" ones (67 percent to 35 percent).

Some 78 percent want a two-state solution, while 15 percent are opposed and eight percent are undecided.

Ninety percent believe Israel is the "ancestral homeland" of the Jewish people, while 72 percent class themselves as Zionists. Ninety-five percent have visited Israel.

Almost two-thirds thought the 2008-2009 war in the Hamas fiefdom of Gaza was "a legitimate act of self-defence", with the same percentage feeling the West Bank security barrier is "vital for Israel's security".

Half of those surveyed agreed that "Israeli control of the West Bank is vital for Israel's security", while 40 percent disagreed.

"Jews in Britain are pro-Israel and pro-peace," the JPR's executive director Jonathan Boyd told The Guardian newspaper.

"Their hawkishness on some issues is typically motivated by a clear concern for Israel's security, while their dovishness on others reflects a deep-set desire to see the country at peace, both with itself and with its neighbours."

© 2010 AFP

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