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Poll: Slim majority support peace negotiations

Sept. 23, 2010 10:23 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 24, 2010 10:35 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A public opinion poll released Thursday suggests that just over half of Palestinians support negotiations with Israel.

But a larger majority, 59 percent, say Palestinians were coerced into entering the talks, the first since 2008. Only one-third of respondents believe the negotiations will succeed, according to the poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center.

Similarly slim majorities (52.9 percent) believe negotiations are the most effective strategy to achieve their national goals, compared with 25.7 percent who say violent resistance is a better route and 15.7 percent preferring non-violent resistance.

Nevertheless, 52 percent of respondents said the August shooting attack that killed four Israeli settlers near Hebron harmed Palestinian national interests while 25.6 percent said the attack aided Palestinian goals.

Thirty-eight percent said the talks would "result in major changes" while 55.7 percent predicted no change to the status quo.

The poll was conducted between 11-15 September and covered 1,200 residents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The margin of error is ±3 percent, with a confidence level of 95 percent.

It asked about politics, media preferences, confidence in Palestinian political parties as well as with the US administration.

The survey also looked at societal questions such as whether respondents shook hands with members of the opposite sex. A very large percentage (62.5 percent) said that they would not shake hands with members of the opposite sex. About 86 percent of those said they did not shake hands because of religious modesty.

Leadership confidence

Pollers note that "it seems that the resumption of the US diplomatic efforts has not led to a major improvement in the view towards the US among the Palestinian people," noting only a modest rise in confidence in the US from 10.1 percent in April 2010 to 13.9 percent.

Confidence in President Mahmoud Abbas rose from 14.8 percent in April to 19 percent in the latest poll. Other rankings remained the same, with Ismail Haniyeh ranking second, Marwan Barghouthi third, and then Salam Fayyad, Muhammad Dahlan, and Mustafa Barghouthi.

Confidence in parties showed a similar uptick, with Fatah increasing from 36.2 percent support to 40.7, with the next highest support levels going to Hamas at 13.2 percent. That was followed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with 2.9 percent and the Palestinian National Initiative with two percent.

About thirty-one percent of Palestinian respondents said they did not trust any faction.
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