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Survey finds overwhelming Arab opposition to normalisation

Protest against normalisation deal with Israel in Khartoum, Sudan on 25 September 2020 [Abbas M. Idris/Anadolu Agency]
Protest against normalisation deal with Israel in Khartoum, Sudan on 25 September 2020 [Abbas M. Idris/Anadolu Agency]

A public opinion survey in the Arab region has found that citizens of 13 states are overwhelmingly opposed to normalisation, despite some of their governments considering the establishment of ties with Israel.

The annual Arab Opinion Index (AOI) published by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies yesterday, found that more than 85 per cent of its 28,000 respondents opposed diplomatic recognition of Israel. Only six per cent of those polled said that they would support such a move.

Notably, Sudan, which has been billed widely as the next state to establish ties with Israel, had 79 per cent of its citizens who responded saying that they would oppose normalisation; only 13 per cent support the move.

Nevertheless, late last week, Sudanese deputy head of state General Mohammad Hamdam Dagalo said that he is pushing to establish diplomatic ties with the occupation state because Sudan “needs Israel”. However, Dagalo stressed in a television interview that he is pushing for “relations, not normalisation”, but he failed to explain what the difference is.

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Meanwhile, 65 per cent of respondents from Saudi Arabia, another country thought to be considering normalisation, told the AOI that they would oppose the move, while only six per cent would support it. Nearly a third of Saudi Arabians who answered the survey abstained from answering questions on potential normalisation, though, suggesting that they may have felt pressured not to speak out against their government.

Nevertheless, although American and Israeli officials have said that they do not expect Saudi Arabia to normalise ties soon, the Kingdom has been shifting its narrative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent months. In August, state-controlled media outlets praised the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for establishing ties with Israel.

On Monday, the former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, openly criticised the Palestinian leadership, describing as “failures” those who advocate for the Palestinian cause. “There is something that successive Palestinian leaderships historically share in common: they always bet on the losing side, and that comes at a price,” he added.

The AOI survey was carried out in Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar between November 2019 and September 2020. The poll also surveyed the public on a variety of issues including their opinions towards extremist groups such as Daesh, religion, democracy and the Arab Spring.

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AfricaBahrainIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineSaudi ArabiaSudanUAE
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