Survey by Arab pollster in the U.S. shows surprise drop in backing of Palestinians by other Arabs.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
An opinion poll published this week shows that attitudes in several key Arab countries and Israel were changing even before the Abraham Accords that saw the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain break away from the traditional Arab stance and establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
Conducted by well-known American pollster John Zogby, the poll was carried out earlier this summer before the historic announcement that the UAE and Bahrain were bypassing the long-standing Arab demand of waiting for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before any Arab country normalized ties with the Jewish state.
The poll surveyed attitudes of 1,005 Israelis and 3,600 Arabs in Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and the UAE with a focus on four different areas: the prospects of reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; proposed Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria; the extent to which Arab states want to normalize relations with Israel; and the impact sovereignty would have on normalization.
Given that the survey ended July 5 and President Donald Trump made the surprise announcement that the UAE would recognize Israel on August 13, the Zogby poll appears to have accurately presented Arab opinion as already moving to be more accepting of Israel.
The survey found that roughly 70% of the Arab respondents believe it is likely that Arab states will develop normalized ties with Israel even without a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Even before the Abraham Accords, almost 40% of the Arabs polled, except for the Palestinians, felt that “Arabs should do more to convince Israel of the benefits of peace and, therefore, find it desirable to explore normalizing ties with Israel even before a peace agreement is reached.”
The poll also found that Arabs are more optimistic about peace than Israelis. While significant majorities (more than eight in 10) among both Israeli and Arab respondents said they believed that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important, a majority of Arabs thought it could happen in the next five years while only 15% of Israelis shared that optimism.
An interesting angle of the survey was Zogby’s attention to the issue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to impose Israeli sovereignty on parts of Judea and Samaria – a move that the UAE and Bahrian said Israel agreed to back out of in return for normalization.
Although Arabs see the benefits to normalizing ties with Israel, 70% of them said they would end support for developing ties with the Jewish state if Netanyahu decides to go ahead with the sovereignty plans.
At least one-half of the Israeli respondents said that last summer was not a good time to annex territories, with the major reasons being that the Palestinians and Arab states would not accept it and “because Israel already exercises effective control of the territories in question, why risk provoking unrest.”
Only 15% of the Israelis who answered the survey were willing to support complete annexation regardless of the consequences.