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Not just Romney: Many in Middle East are losing faith in a two-state solution, too

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Israeli faith in negotiations to deliver a peace deal is now at the lowest level since 2003, according to the Negotiations Index, part of a monthly public opinion survey published by the Israeli Democracy Institute in Jerusalem. The August index stands at 40.7, a significant drop even since April, when it stood at 49.5.

And even in April, 58 percent of Jewish respondents and 51 percent of Israeli Arab interviewees "saw no chance of ending the conflict in accordance with the 'two states for two peoples' formula at the present time," according to the monthly survey, known as the Peace Index.

Hopes are also flagging on the Palestinian side, with well over half a million Israelis now living over the 1967 borders that are widely seen as the basis for any eventual peace deal. The evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Migron last month underscores the enormous, if not insurmountable, challenge posed by the settlements to an eventual peace deal. The Israeli government, armed with a Supreme Court ruling and promises to build the residents new homes to the tune of some 33 million shekels ($8.7 million, or $187,000 per family), still faced stiff resistance in uprooting the tiny community.

Many Israelis and their leaders see the settlements as providing a security buffer for Israel and as fulfilling biblical claims to the land.

But Palestinians argue that the spread of settlements, and the roads connecting them, are whittling away at the land that could feasibly become a Palestinian state – already divided between the landlocked West Bank and the coastal Gaza Strip.

“If you look at the West Bank now, it’s like Swiss cheese,” says Hamas official Ghazi Hamad, who is deputy foreign minister in Gaza. “I don’t know what is left for negotiation.”

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