JERUSALEM, June 11 (UPI) -- A majority of Israelis oppose releasing Palestinian prisoners as a precondition to peace talks, a poll sponsored by the Knesset's Land of Israel caucus found.
The poll conducted by the Smith Research on behalf of the newly formed caucus found 85 percent of Israeli Jews say the release of Palestinian prisoners is unacceptable, The Jerusalem Post reported. The 85 percent are comprised of 57 percent who said they would strongly oppose such a move and 28 percent who said they were against it. Only 2 percent of the 407 respondents said they would strongly favor releasing prisoners as a gesture to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table and 13 percent said they would support such a move, the newspaper said.
When asked whether withdrawing from West Bank settlements would impact the security situation in Israel, 68 percent said such a move would harm Israel's security and 21 percent said it would improve it, the paper said.
The poll conducted last week has a 5 percent margin of error.
"The caucus will be the conscience of the government and the Knesset," leader coalition chairman Yariv Levin told The Post. He said the caucus will support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's efforts to resume peace talks and the poll "is not intended to maneuver against the prime minister, and it should not be interpreted that way."
Speaking before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, Netanyahu said the Palestinians are intentionally insisting on preconditions to prevent the start of negotiations, the paper said.
"As far as I'm concerned, setting preconditions is an obstacle that cannot be passed," he said.
Every time the government gave the Palestinians what they demanded as preconditions for talks in the past they made additional demands, he said. Any future Palestinian state must be demilitarized Netanyahu said, adding West Bank settlement construction will continue.