04/10/2006, 00.00
PALESTINE - ISRAEL
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No peace at hand, say Palestinians, but we want two states for two nations

Just as Israel severed all ties with the Hamas government, a survey revealed that most residents of West Bank and Gaza are in favour of plans to have two states.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The majority of Palestinians do not believe there will be a peace accord with Israel "in the near future" (within four years or less), but it is in favour of plans for "two States for two nations". There is also a conviction among the majority that the conflicts pits Israelis and Palestinians against each other "in the first place" (69.2%), and not moderates against extremists of both sides, as 27.6% of people think. There is also a prevalent belief that the media gives more space to the voices of extremists rather to moderates.

These are some of the results, published today and sent to AsiaNews, of a survey conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion (PCPO), an independent centre that has researched Palestinian public opinion since 1994. It is run by a Christian, Nabil Kukali, who is also professor at Hebron University in West Bank.

The survey results were published at a time when links between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) are passing through an especially rough patch. A policy of freezing ties at all levels with the PNA was announced yesterday by the government of Ehud Olmert. It  has already had an impact: Israel has ordered the Palestinian forces of order to leave the offices of coordination between the security forces, in Jericho, West Bank. There is another reason for climbing tension in Gaza and West Bank: the fear that Europe may decide today to suspend the economic aid that has so far allowed the PNA to maintain its 140,000 dependents.

Conducted between 22 and 26 March, the survey reveals that 43.1% of Palestinians "think" and 22.3% "are sure" that reaching a peace agreement with Israel within a short time is impossible, compared to 25.1% who "think" and 8.6% who are "sure" agreement will be reached.

The majority (50.5%) of the Palestinians, however, supports, in varying degrees, the Palestinian Independence Chart and the Arab Peace Initiatives, based on the solution of "two states for two nations". But 33.8% are against for different reasons. Another 25% are doubtful. Dr Fathi Darwish, director of Souhtouna Palestine - One Voice Initiative, a pacifist organization that collaborated with the PCPO in the survey, said the most significant result of the poll was "the desire of the Palestinian people to achieve a just and comprehensive peace backed by the principle of two states for two nations and the UN resolutions."

Targeting the Palestinians' views on peace, the research also reveals, among other things, "the significant role played by the media in the conflict". Asked whether communication media gave more attention to extremists' views, the majority of respondents (42.8%) replied in the affirmative. Only 34.8% said they offer an "accurate report" of what is going on, and only 17.2% said they give more space to moderate views.

In response to a question about the electoral victory of Hamas, the majority of respondents (34.9%) said Hamas won because it was a "Muslim political party", but 30.6% attributed its victory to the corruption of Al Fatah. Another 16% said it was because of the mismanagement of the PNA. Only 9.3% attributed the victory of Hamas to its refusal to recognize Israel and another 9.2% put their success down to a lack of progress in the peace process.

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