x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Poll: Palestinians believe statehood is likely

In a survey of 502 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in August, the survey indicates a wide majority supported the UN bid for statehood.

JERUSALEM // A majority of Palestinians believe their-hoped for state will receive recognition at the United Nations, but are unsure how such a move will actually benefit them, a poll says.

Some 46 per cent of Palestinians think recognition of a Palestinian state by the world body is quite likely, and another 15 per cent believe it is very likely.

Only 10 per cent, on the other hand, believe UN recognition will not happen, according to the poll, which was conducted by YouGov Siraj for the Al Aan TV's Nabd Al Arab programme.

In a survey of 502 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in August, the poll also indicates the UN bid was supported by a majority - 51 per cent say they were very much in favour of the bid. Only 7 per cent did not back it at all.

The results seem to bode well for a Palestinian leadership led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, who took up his post in 2005. The Palestinians have failed for the past two decades to negotiate with Israel for independent statehood.

The attempt to bypass US-brokered peace talks for recognition at the world body appears to have boosted the popularity of Mr Abbas, who has been criticised in the past for caving to US and Israeli pressure. In particular, the public has taken notice of his defiance of US warnings not to seek full UN membership in the Security Council.

But the Al Aan TV survey also suggests more scepticism when it comes to expectations of tangible results from Mr Abbas' UN strategy. More than half of the respondents believed it will have an effect on their lives, but a quarter believed it will not make much difference. Thirteen per cent said it would bring no change at all.

Moreover, asked when Palestine would become an independent nation-state, the second-most popular response, selected by 18 per cent of all respondents, was "not in my lifetime". The most popular, at 25 per cent, said they either did not know or preferred not to respond.

Cynicism seemed to win out on a number of other topics addressed by the survey.

Just less than half (48 per cent) said they do not believe that Hamas and Fatah will actually reconcile their differences, even though the rival factions signed a landmark rapprochement accord in May.

Forty-eight per cent also said employment opportunities got much worse over the past 12 months. That 55 per cent of Gazans agreed with this is, perhaps, not a surprise - the blockaded enclave is beset by unemployment.

But even in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has focused on strengthening institutions and creating jobs over the past two years, 40 per cent of respondents agreed that things had become much worse.

Yet, not all succumbed to gloom. Asked about the next 12 months, 33 per cent of Palestinians thought life would improve. That was the most popular of the choices.