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Poll shows Israelis and Palestinians pessimistic about peace

JERUSALEM - Israelis and Palestinians responding to a survey believe a recent U.S.-sponsored peace conference was a failure and think their leaders won't manage to sign a peace deal in the next year, according to results released Tuesday.

Israelis were more pessimistic, with 74 percent saying the peace summit last month in Annapolis, Md., was a failure compared with 59 percent of Palestinians, according to the poll.

The Annapolis conference officially relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after a violent seven-year freeze. At the summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement by the end of 2008.

But only 23 percent of Palestinians and 8 percent of Israelis think that's possible, the poll showed.

More than half of Israelis — 55 percent — believe that violence will not stop, along with 32 percent of Palestinians, it found.

The poll of 1,270 Palestinians and 564 Israelis was carried out jointly by the Truman Center at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. It had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Palestinians and Israelis are also split down the middle on a final peace deal.

Pollsters asked respondents if they supported an agreement that would see a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, territorial exchanges between the sides, a compromise on Jerusalem that would see Israel rule Jewish areas and Palestinians rule Arab areas, and a resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian state and abroad but not in Israel.

A slim majority of Israelis — 53 percent — said they would support such a deal, roughly the same as last year but down from 64 percent two years ago. Forty-seven percent of Palestinians said they would support it, compared to 48 percent last year.

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