Poll: Palestinians prefer to ‘wait-and-see’ rather than reject Trump peace plan

Rather than the PA’s firm no, new survey shows most Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza favor more measured approach, want to see more involvement by Arab states in peacemaking

US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on August 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on August 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza disagree with the Palestinian leadership’s outright rejection of the US peace plan — which has yet to be fully rolled out by the Trump administration — opting for a more measured “wait-and-see” approach, according to a new poll by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion led by Dr. Nabil Kukali.

The poll, cited by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy last week, was taken June 27-July 19 and is based on personal interviews with representative samples of 500 West Bankers and 500 Gazans, ruled by terror group Hamas. The statistical margin of error in each territory was approximately four percent.

According to the survey, more Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank said the Palestinian Authority “should not reject the plan, so Israel won’t be able to take advantage of the rejection” (10% in the West Bank, 28% in Gaza, and 26% in East Jerusalem) and that “the PA should look at the plan when it is officially released, before taking any position on it” (an additional one-quarter in each demographic).

About 30 percent in each area said the PA should “reject the plan now, so as to maintain our position.”

Poll by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion July 2019.

The US has so far kept the political elements of its plan under wraps, while the economic aspects of it were presented in June by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner at an American-led conference in Bahrain. The economic aspect of the plan would see a $50 billion investment package for the Palestinians and the wider region

The Palestinians skipped the Bahrain conference and have rejected the peace plan outright, pressing on with their boycott of the administration since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and cut Palestinian aid.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, fifth from left, and Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, sixth from left, listen to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, standing, during the opening session of the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ workshop in Manama, Bahrain on June 25, 2019. (Bahrain News Agency via AP)

The Bahrain conference was viewed very unfavorably by Palestinians. According to the poll, around half of respondents in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem said the conference was “a bad idea”; just 30% of respondents from Gaza, and 14% in the West Bank, thought the event was “a good idea.”

“But an extraordinarily high 40% of West Bankers, and 19% of Gazans, say they haven’t heard or read enough about the Bahrain workshop to offer an opinion about it — perhaps, at least in some cases, because they are reluctant to contradict the official PA and Hamas opposition to it,” the Washington Institute’s David Pollock wrote.

The poll also showed a “dramatic rise” in the proportion supporting a more involved role for Arab states in the peacemaking process.

Poll by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion July 2019 showing a more favorable view of Arab states’ involvement in peacemaking.

Of the West Bank respondents, 61% and a staggering 86% of those in Gaza said “Arab states should take a more active role in Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking, offering both sides incentive to take more moderate positions.”

Earlier this week, the Hebrew-language media reported that Washington was planning a conference with Arab leaders at Camp David, during which Trump will roll out his plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Invitations to the conference will be extended by Kushner as he visited Israel and the Middle East this week to drum up support for the plan.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, July 31, 2019 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

During the conference, which is set to be held before the general elections in Israel on September 17, Trump will outline the broad strokes of his plan without making any binding proposals, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily newspaper said.

US officials have previously stated the plan would not be released until after the Israeli elections. According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu helped plan the meeting, which could be a boon to his reelection hopes.

According to the poll, though respondents favored a more careful approach to the Trump peace plan, Palestinians by and large do not hold Trump himself in high regard. Just 8% of West Bank respondents and 11% of Gazans expressed a “fairly good” opinion of the US president.

Poll by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion July 2019 showing opinions on world leaders.

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman gets a good rating from 22% of West Bankers and 38% of Gazans. And Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leads the pack by far: a remarkable three-quarters of Palestinian respondents in both territories credit him with a favorable rating,” Pollock wrote.

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