03/27/2006, 00.00
PALESTINE – ISRAEL
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For Palestinians whoever wins in Israel's elections won't change anything

Survey results indicate that a majority of Palestinians don't believe a unilateral pullout from the West Bank will bring peace or security to Israel. Almost two thirds (62.7 per cent) don't feel bound by agreements with Israel and 88.5 per cent does not trust the Israelis. But 50.7 per cent disagrees with the anti-European raids that followed Israel's attack against the Jericho prison.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – For Palestinians, "nothing will change"; a majority of them (55.5 per cent) believes that a Kadima victory in tomorrow's Israeli elections, which would confirm Ehud Olmert's prime ministership and his unilateral pullout plan from the West Bank, won't end the war. For 31.3 per cent, the "war will continue", whilst 40.8 per cent is convinced that a unilateral withdrawal won't bring Israel security against 26.5 per cent who expect it will.

These are but a few results from a survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), an independent polling institute founded in 1994, whose findings were released today and sent to AsiaNews. It is directed by Nabil Kukali, a Christian scholar who teaches at Hebron University, in the West Bank.

Despite pessimism over Olmert's programme and the strong belief (48 per cent) that "no Israeli party" can solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 50.9 per cent still hold out some hope for a solution: 18.6 per cent believe that Labour is best positioned to find such a solution, followed by Kadima (17.6 per cent) and Likud (14.7 per cent).

The findings, according to Kukali, "show that a majority of Palestinians think that Ehud Olmert's unilateral West Bank pullout plan within September 2010 without a real peace deal with the Palestinians will only lead to continued conflict in the region and won't provide Israel with stability and security."

This, Kukali believes, means that "Israel cannot set the permanent boundaries with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) without Palestinians' consent." And 88.5 per cent of Palestinians have no faith in Israel's commitment to the agreements it signed with the PNA.

If 49.4 per cent think that the conflict will continue despite the unilateral pullout, another 48.6 per cent splits over whether it will lead to an independent Palestinian state that recognises Israel (11.7 per cent) or to a wider area under PNA jurisdiction without the obligation of recognising Israel (36.9 per cent).

A majority of respondents (52.4 vs 46.8 per cent) disagrees to varying degrees with President Mahmud Abbas' demand that Hamas recognise all agreements already signed between the PNA and Israel. Indeed, 62.7 per cent believe that the PNA should not feel bound to any agreement it signed with Israel.

On the domestic front, most respondents still believe the situation is bad: for 60.9 per cent the economic situation is "bad"; 52.7 per cent is "worried" and 31.6 per cent is "very worried" about their family's fate; whilst 82.4 per cent is "very concerned" about personal security.

If a majority (55.5 per cent) believes that Israel's unilateral withdrawal won't change things, 29.8 per cent believes that it will strengthen Hamas and weaken Fatah against 12.2 per cent who think the opposite.

A majority (60.8 per cent) remains optimistic about Hamas' chances of doing something good now that it is in power; 74.4 per cent is happy that Fatah is not in the new government; but 23.3 per cent "strongly agrees" and 51.7 per cent "somewhat agrees" with Azzam El-Ahmed, Fatah leader in the Palestinian Legislative Council when he said: "We don't demand from Hamas to change its program, but advise it only to separate its programme as an authority from its program as a party." Altogether support for President Abbas touches 65.4 per cent.

Finally, if 85.5 per cent of respondents strongly or somewhat distrust Israel's commitment to agreements it signed with the PNA after its raid against the Jericho prison, a slim majority (50.7 vs 49.2 per cent) disapproves of the reaction by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who, after the raid, kidnapped foreigners and destroyed cultural centres of European countries.

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