Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday he was optimistic that US Secretary of State John Kerry would succeed in restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Abbas delivered the upbeat assessment two days after Kerry ended his latest peace mission to the region without any breakthroughs, and a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a similar statement.
At a news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Abbas said Kerry presented “useful and constructive suggestions.” He said the Palestinians are optimistic because Kerry is “serious and determined to reach a solution.”
Kerry has been working for months on finding a formula to restart peace talks, which have been stalled for nearly five years. Before leaving Sunday, Kerry said he had significantly narrowed the gaps between the sides and promised to return to the region soon.
On Monday, Netanyahu said he wanted to see peace talks move forward, telling Letta he was willing to sit “in a peace tent” and remain there “until talks progressed.
“We want peace. I want peace. We want to restart peace negotiations as soon as possible, without any obstacles,” Netanyahu said in opening statements at a press conference with his Italian guest. “We have to get into the tent and stay in the tent and seek to end this conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. That’s our goal. That is Secretary Kerry’s efforts, which I think deserve consistent and constant European support, and I’m sure that Italy will give that support.”
Also Tuesday, a joint poll by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, West Bank, showed deep skepticism among Israelis and Palestinians.
Only 27 percent of the Palestinians and 10 percent of the Israelis polled said they think the two sides will return to negotiations and violence will cease.
Still, according to the poll, a majority on both sides — 62 percent of Israelis and 53 percent of Palestinians — support the two-state solution to the conflict that Kerry is promoting, which calls for establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
According to the survey, a majority on each side views the other as “constituting a threat to its very existence.”
The survey was conducted shortly before Kerry’s visit. It polled 1,270 Palestinians face-to-face in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem with a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Pollsters interviewed 601 Israelis over the phone, and the survey had a 4.5 point margin of error.