06/26/2008, 00.00
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Palestinians support cease-fire, but do not believe in peace with Israel

A survey highlights how the majority of Palestinians are in favour both of the ceasefire and of negotiations with Israel, but doubt the results of Annapolis. No to the suicide bombers, and yes instead to political and presidential elections.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - An overwhelming majority of Palestinians are in favour of the cease-fire with Israel, but do not believe that the Annapolis process will produce results; most of them are against suicide attacks, do not want multinational forces to be deployed in Gaza, want elections for a new head of the Palestinian Authority - and in this case, most would vote for Marwan Al-Barghouti  - and see Fatah and Hamas as responsible together for the current division between Gaza and the West Bank, even if the Islamists are seen as the main cause.

These are the most significant data that emerge from the most recent survey, sent to AsiaNews, carried out by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, an independent organisation that since 1994 has studied Palestinian public opinion, directed by Nabil Kukali, a Christian, who is also a professor at Hebrew University in the West Bank.

On the cease-fire with Israel, 83% say they are in favour (42.9% "strongly support it", and 40.1% "somewhat support it").  In March, 73% of those interviewed said they were in favour of the cease-fire.  Also increased, compared the three months ago, is the percentage of those who do not believe that suicide attacks serve the interests of Palestinians.  They were 49.1% then, and 53.8% now.  To a more specific question on suicide attacks inside Israel, in March 49.4% believe they should be stopped, while 56% are now of this opinion.  But the number of those who want them to continue has also increased.  They were 40.2% then, and 41.4% now.  The number of those undecided has fallen, from 10% to 2.6%.

Those surveyed were clearly in favour (74.1%) of peace negotiations with Israel, (24.5% "strongly", and 49.6% "somewhat"), although expectations for the success of the Annapolis process are very low: only 3.9% maintain that this will "certainly" produce results, and another 27.6% think that "maybe" it will succeed. 67% of those interviewed are of the opposite view, with various levels of conviction.

60.1% are strongly against the deployment of an international force in Gaza.  The Palestinians believe that responsibility for the current division between Gaza and the West Bank must be attributed both to Fatah and to Hamas (41.6%); 32.9% blame only Hamas, and 15.5% only Fatah.  Political elections are seen as useful by the overwhelming majority (75.5%) of those interviewed.  Respondents were also in favour of presidential elections (69.1%).  In this case, the current prime minister of Hamas, Ismael Haniyyeh, would be defeated by current president Mahmoud Abbas - whose performance nonetheless disappoints 54.3% of Palestinians - and by Marwan Barghouthi, the Fatah representative imprisoned in Israel. Barghouthi continues to obtain the highest approval (42.8%) of those interviewed.

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