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Polls Show Israelis, Palestinians Support Upcoming Peace Conference

Polls show that Israelis and Palestinians support next week's international peace conference sponsored by the United States. But as Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, they don't believe it will help bring an end to the Middle East conflict.

A poll published in Israel's biggest newspaper shows that nearly 70 percent of Israelis support the peace conference that will take place in Annapolis, Maryland next week. But the survey also found that nearly the same number, 71 percent, do not believe it will help resolve the Middle East conflict.

Israeli, Palestinian and American leaders say the goal is to complete a final peace agreement by the end of 2008, but 82 percent of Israelis don't believe that is possible.

Israeli analyst Shmuel Sandler says core issues like the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and final borders have baffled diplomats for decades, and resolving them in just a year is impossible.

"They are touching upon issues which I would say are detrimental to Israel's existence, so I don't think that this conference has a chance," said Sandler.

A Palestinian poll published earlier this week showed similar results. It found that 70 percent of Palestinians want President Mahmoud Abbas to attend the Annapolis conference, but 57 percent do not believe it will advance the peace process.

Palestinian analyst Mahdi Abdel Hadi says that after months of negotiations, the sides have not even been able to hammer out a joint document on Palestinian statehood.

"There is no progress whatsoever," said Hadi. "[The] Israelis did not agree on any statement and drafting any document, and not moving to any direction. And I have very much doubts of the success of Annapolis."

If the document is not completed in time for the peace conference, Israeli and Palestinian leaders are expected to present a more vague statement, announcing the resumption of formal peace talks after a seven-year break.