07/17/2006, 00.00
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Most Palestinians want release of kidnapped Israeli soldier

A survey has revealed that 96.3% of Palestinians want to see the man released, however they want "advantages" in return, especially the release of women and minors in Israeli prisons. The majority is also for the resumption of peace negotiations with Israel.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Palestinians are for the resumption of peace negotiations with Israel and they want a solution to the affair of the kidnapped Israeli soldier, but in exchange for some "advantages", particularly the release of women and minors imprisoned by Israel. These are some of the results, published today and sent to AsiaNews, of a survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), an independent centre that has studied Palestinian public opinion since 1994. The centre is run by Nabil Kukali, a Christian who is a professor at Hebron University in the West Bank.

The survey reveals that the vast majority of Palestinians (76.8%) are worried about the future of their families, and that a good 74.9% are against the resignation of the PA president, Abu Mazen. Further, the majority – albeit a smaller one of 58.5% - want the Prime Minister of Hamas, Ismael Haniyeh, and his government to stay put.

Kukali said the most substantial finding of the poll, conducted between 4 and 7 July among 1,050 Palestinian adults, was that the "striking majority of the people, at 96.3% – 96% in Gaza Strip and 96.5% in the West Bank – are in favour of solving the issue of the Israeli captive in return for some advantages". Only 2.9% are for the unconditional release of Corporal Shalit.

As for the advantages requested: 47.2% were for the release of female prisoners and children in Israeli jails; 18.4% were for the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners; 17.6% were for the halt of Israeli military attacks; 8.9% for the release of members of the Palestinian Parliament captured by the Israelis; 3.3% were for the compensation of losses and damages incurred and 4.6% answered "otherwise".

Kukali said the survey revealed that the "great majority of Palestinians (65.1%) are in favour of resuming peace negotiations between the PA president and the government of Israel. The percentages were 74.3% in Gaza Strip and 59.8% in the West Bank". Specifically, 24.7% were "strongly in favour" of the resumption of negotiations, 40.4% "somewhat supported" the idea, 18.1% were "somewhat against" and 15.1% were "strongly against". And 1.7% "didn't know".

Further, 76.5% of Palestinians said they were worried about the future of their families: 33.6% were "very" much so, 43.2% were "worried", 15.2% were "not much", 7.2% were "not worried at all" and 0.7% "didn't know".

As for the popularity ratings of their leaders, the survey showed Palestinians do not want (74.9%) Abu Mazen to step down, more so in Gaza (77.8%) than in West Bank (73.2%). And they do not want the Hamas government to step down either, although the majority is not so large in this case, with 62.7% in West Bank and 51.3% in Gaza.

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See also
Israel frees 199 Palestinian prisoners
Palestinians in favour of prisoners' document in referendum
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Hamas announces 18-month truce with Israel
Few expect much from meeting between Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas


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