Most Israeli Jews say peace deal impossible: Poll

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Almost 80 per cent of Israeli Jews believe a peace deal with the Palestinians is impossible, an opinion poll found on Friday, two days after the resumption of negotiations in Jerusalem.

Asked whether "this time, we will reach a final agreement that will put an end to the conflict," 79.7 per cent of respondents said no, and just 6.2 per cent said yes.

Another 14.1 per cent expressed no opinion.

The survey, published in rightwing freesheet Israel Hayom, was carried out by Israeli research institute Hagal Hahadash among a representative sample of 500 Israeli Jews.

Asked about the government's decision to release long-serving Palestinian prisoners alongside the resumed peace talks, 77.5 per cent of respondents said they opposed it and just 14.2 per cent said they were in favour.

Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday hours before the Jerusalem talks, the first of 104 prisoners slated for release in stages depending on progress in the negotiations.

A full 62.9 per cent of respondents said they would rather the government announced a freeze on Jewish settlement construction than release prisoners, many of whom were convicted of murder.

In the run-up to Wednesday's talks, Israel authorised more than 2,000 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank.

The last peace talks, in September 2010, broke down over the issue of settlements, which has this time again incensed Palestinian negotiators.