Ma'an News Agency
November 4, 2010 - 12:00am

More than half of Palestinians in the occupied territories oppose a return to direct negotiations with Israel in the face of ongoing West Bank settlement expansion, an opinion poll released Wednesday suggests.

The survey, from the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, prepared by Beit Sahour-based pollster Nabil Kukali, also showed that 56.2 percent wanted rival Palestinian factions to sign Egypt's proposal for political reconciliation.

In the same survey, only 34.3 percent said they would support the resumption of peace talks in the absence of a freeze on Israel's construction of West Bank settlements, which are broadly considered to be illegal under international law.

Some 48.2 percent said they believed the US midterm elections would impact the peace process, with Republican victories restricting President Barack Obama's ability to handle the negotiations.

And 44.7 percent said they were dissatisfied with President Mahmoud Abbas' performance. Some 43.2 said they were satisfied and 12.1 percent responded "don't know" to that question.

A plurality of 49.4 percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly opposed the firing of homemade "Qassam" rockets from Gaza into Israel, while 46.2 say they somewhat or strongly support such attacks.

The poll was based on a random sample of 1,005 Palestinian adults over age 18 living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Gaza Strip.

In a summary of his findings, Kukali highlighted what he said were "deep nostalgic feelings" about the late President Yasser Arafat, six years after his death. Some 86.7 percent said they missed Arafat, a fact Kukali said could be attributable to the "lack of a leading personality" capable of uniting Palestinians.

Should negotiations fail to produce a final agreement with Israel, 34.3 said the most likely scenario would be the disillusion of the Palestinian Authority with the expectation that the international community would fill the resulting power vacuum, and the Palestinian political factions also playing role in such a scenario.

Another 31.3 percent said they predicted a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state accompanied by an escalation of violent resistance, and 29.7 percent predicted a continuation of the status quo.

Also, 46.2 percent said they would support to some degree the deployment of a UN multinational force in the West Bank and Gaza in the event of a final peace treaty with Israel.


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