02/28/2006, 00.00
PALESTINE

Most Palestinians want peace with Israel, survey says

More than one Palestinian in two favours recognition of Israel, more than two thirds want negotiations to start again, and four fifths want to main maintain the truce. Most also don't agree with the protests over the Muhammad caricatures in front of the European Union bureaus in Gaza and the United Nations bureaus in Hebron.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – A majority of the Palestinian population wants the resumption of negotiations with Israel and is ready to recognise the Jewish state. People expect Hamas to improve the economic situation and achieve greater security and order. They also do not approve of the demonstrations that took place over the Muhammad caricatures in front of the European Union bureaus in Gaza and the United Nations bureaus in Hebron.

These, at least, are some of the results of a survey published today and sent to AsiaNews by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), an independent polling firm founded in 1994 to gauge Palestinian public opinion and directed by Nabil Kukali, a Christian, who teaches at Hebron University on the West Bank.

The survey indicates that 50.8 per cent of Palestinians agree to the recognition of the State of Israel, 69.8 per cent are in favour of the resumption of the negotiations with Israel, 62.2 per cent want rocket attacks against Israeli territory to stop, and 80.4 per cent want the truce to continue.

The study also shows that the population has high expectations vis-à-vis the incoming Hamas administration. Thus, 93.8 per cent demand Hamas improve economic conditions and reduce the unemployment rate; 90.1 per cent want it to fight corruption, 84.4 per cent to put an end to lawlessness and enforce security and safety; and 88.1 per cent to enforce the sovereignty [sic] of law everywhere".

Most Palestinians still have a positive outlook on the future: 54.9 per cent expect the situation to improve, 30. 7 per cent think it will stay the same and only 11.8 per cent think it will get worse.

In terms of domestic politics, 51.5 are in favour of Fateh's participation in a government of a national unity, 69.6 per cent support to various degrees Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, 51.3 per cent would be favourable to increasing his constitutional powers.

As for the future Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyah tops the list of candidates with 41.5 per cent of support far ahead of his immediate rival who stands at 12.1 per cent.

By a proportion of almost two to one, most Palestinians expressed their disapproval of the attack against the Gaza bureaus of the European Union to protest the publication of the Muhammad caricatures: 62.7 per cent against the attack  versus 35.3 per cent for. Almost four in five (76.9 per cent) said they were against the protest in front of the UN Temporary International Presence in Hebron.

Mr Kukali said that the survey was conducted between February 16 and 20 and was based on a representative sample of 1,003 people—34.6 per cent from the Gaza Strip and 65.4 per cent from the West Bank (East Jerusalem included); 49.3% per cent women and 50.7 per cent men; 51.1 per cent from cities, 33.4 per cent from villages and 15.5 per cent from refugee camps.

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