The real issue is political leadership

The real issue is political leadership

By David Pollock, Egypt Daily News

6.6.2011
via Daily News Egypt (click for original)

Around half of Israelis, Palestinians, and some other key Arab publics, according to various opinion polls taken in the past decade, support something like the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, whose basic concept is peace and Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for Israel's full withdrawal from the territories it captured in the 1967 war.
 
Similarly, around half of each one of these publics would also support other analogous proposals focused more narrowly on "land for peace" in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, such as the unofficial Palestinian-Israeli Geneva initiative of 2003 or the Clinton parameters of December 2000.
 
Given such statistics, is this glass half empty or half full? These results suggest that political leadership could move these societies toward peace based on mutual compromises. But whether such political leadership can be found, whether the devilish details of a peace agreement can be successfully negotiated, and whether any such agreement could withstand the shifting winds of public opinion — all these are different questions entirely.
 
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The Geneva initiative, when taken as a whole document, has recently garnered narrow majority or at least plurality Israeli and Palestinian support. In March 2010, the International Peace Institute reported that 56 percent of Israelis support the Geneva initiative, with about half of the Palestinian population supporting it. The group's poll from December 2008 had shown similar results, with a 51 percent support rating among Israelis, but about 41 percent among Palestinians. Palestinian support, measured in November 2010, increased to 67.6 percent when respondents were asked specifically about the clause concerning Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, with no more than three percent land swaps.