A new Arab Opinion study reveals the general public’s attitude towards normalisation with Israel.
A recent regional study by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies [ACRPS] in Qatar revealed the Gulf region is proportionally the highest for its opposition to formalising relations with Israel.
The comprehensive opinion poll, released on Tuesday, is the largest known report on public attitudes throughout the Arab region. This year’s survey was carried out by 900 researchers within the MENA region, who conducted 28,000 interviews in 13 countries over a span of 69,578 hours.
Nearly 90% of the people surveyed in Qatar and Kuwait rejected the recognition of Israel by their countries, the seventh series of the annual Arab Opinion Index report said.
The survey also revealed that 65% of Saudi respondents rejected the recognition of Israel, while 6% agreed and 29% refused to express their opinion. Saudi Arabia has not yet followed the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who were not surveyed, in their controversial normalisation deals.
Respondents within the UAE and Bahrain would be subject to serious consequences for criticising their governments’ decisions to normalise with Israel, ACRPS noted.
However, the highest rate of refusal to recognise Israel came from Algeria with a whopping 99% of respondents, followed by Lebanon at 94% and Tunisia and Jordan at 93%
Jordan established ties with Israel in 1994.
Overall, 88% of Arabs said they would not support normalisation with the occupying state, reflecting clear discord between the general public and governments in the region.
Speaking to Doha News, researchers from ACRPS said even the highest pro-normalisation results were quite low.
“Arab citizens overwhelmingly reject normalisation on the grounds that Israel poses a threat to the region, as well as Israeli policies of land theft and racism – against both Palestinians and Arabs more generally.
“The two countries with the highest level of support for normalisation were Egypt (which already has a peace deal with Israel) and Sudan (which is currently being pressured heavily by the US on this issue). Both countries still only had 13% support for normalisation, with the vast majority opposed. This is the case in all countries.”
The survey was published just weeks after a wave of normalisation deals with Israel were announced in September.
The trend started with the UAE and was later followed by Bahrain despite fierce opposition from all Palestinian factions who slammed the move as a “betrayal” of their cause.
ACRPS researchers said the results helps to bring to light the opinions and preferences of the average Arab citizen, which should have an illuminating effect on the discourse surrounding the normalisation issue.
“Most media coverage and debates around this issue centre the official regime rhetoric/position, as well as the voices connected to, and amplified by, the normalising regimes. The average Arab citizen is left out of this discussion. So our results helps to illuminate what people really think, and in a small way, give them a voice,” ACRPS told Doha News.
Shortly after the deals, false claims made by UAE-Saudi media claimed Qatar was also on the verge of striking an agreement. The allegations were swiftly quelled by Doha which reaffirmed its fixed pro-Palestinian position on several occasions.
Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al-khater responded by saying “normalisation can’t be the answer” to the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine.
In response to the false media campaign, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) also stressed Qatar’s support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
“It is regrettable to see some misleading media campaigns that try to mix up issues and distort the image of the State of Qatar at the expense of the brotherly Palestinian people and their legitimate rights at this defining moment in the history of the conflict,” the statement said.
Qatar has also called on the international community to end global inaction to end the occupation of Palestine.
US President Donald Trump has made hints at more potential Arab normalisation agreements with Israel, with analysts suggesting Sudan and Oman could be next in line.