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80% of Palestinians believe Arab states abandoned them

July 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm

Palestinians hold placards and Palestinian flag as they gather to protest against ‘Deal of the Century’ in Tel Aviv on 25 June 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency]

Some 80 per cent of Palestinians believe that Arab states have abandoned them and the Palestinian cause, a new poll conducted in the wake of last week’s “Peace to Prosperity” conference has revealed.

The poll – conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research based in the West Bank city of Ramallah – found that 80 per cent of respondents supported the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s call for boycotting the “Peace to Prosperity” conference, which took place in Bahraini capital Manama last week to unveil the economic aspects of the long-awaited “deal of the century”.

The poll showed that the same percentage viewed Arab states’ participation in the conference as abandonment of the Palestinians and their cause. Despite the PA’s calls to boycott, representatives from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan and Egypt all attended the summit. Only Lebanon and Kuwait  heeded the call to boycott.

In addition, 90 per cent of those surveyed said they do not trust the administration of US President Donald Trump, which has spearheaded the “deal of the century”. Some 75 per cent of Palestinians want the PA to reject the deal, the Jerusalem Post reported.

A key feature of the plan has been to provide economic incentives for the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) and neighbouring countries who host millions of Palestinian refugees. The plan includes a $50 billion pay package, in what critics have interpreted as an attempt to trade economic prosperity for meaningful political progress.

However, when asked to choose between economic prosperity and an independent Palestinian state, 83 per cent opted for independence while only 15 per cent chose economic prosperity.

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In a rare show of unity, all Palestinian factions stood together to oppose the US peace plan, labelling it stillborn and refusing to accept its terms.

The deal has been interpreted as only the latest in a string of measures taken by the US administration against the Palestinians, which has included recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the US embassy to the Holy City, shuttering the Palestinian representative office in Washington, and cutting financial assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and USAID to the oPt.

US decision to cut UNRWA funding - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

US decision to cut UNRWA funding – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The Palestinians have also been critical of Arab states’ normalisation with Israel. During the “Peace to Prosperity” conference, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa came under fire after he claimed that Israel is a “country to stay” in the Middle East. His comments sparked anger given that Bahrain, like most other Arab states, does not formally recognise Israel and does not maintain diplomatic relations.

Bahrain is not alone in pushing this normalisation drive. This week the head of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Yossi Cohen, claimed that Israel and Oman are working towards establishing relations and opening an Israeli diplomatic mission in the Sultanate.

Oman has since denied the claims, saying in a statement that “Oman is keen to exert all efforts […] to work towards achieving peace between the Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel, leading to the establishment of an independent State of Palestine”.

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