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December 13, 2017 4:04 pm

Abbas’ Fiery Rhetoric Toward US and Israel May Be Unconvincing to Palestinian Public, New Poll Suggests

avatar by Ben Cohen

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the OIC summit in Istanbul. Photo: Reuters / Osman Orsal.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas faces an uphill struggle in convincing his public that his recent defiance of the US and Israel is genuine, a new opinion poll published on Wednesday indicated.

In rhetoric that was a throwback to the uncompromising statements of the PLO at the height of the Cold War, Abbas urged world leaders to “reconsider their recognition of Israel over its conduct toward Palestinians and its dismissal of decisions by the international community with the backing of the United States” in a speech to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in Istanbul on Wednesday. Abbas also denounced US President Donald Trump’s decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a “crime.”

The speech drew instant condemnation from Israeli and Jewish leaders; Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon accused Abbas of “actively thwarting initiatives towards reconciliation,” while David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, criticized the PA’s “wholesale condemnation” of Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, as well as its refusal to meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his upcoming visit to the region, as “totally unhelpful and needlessly incendiary.”

But the results of a new poll published by the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) show that most Palestinians believe that Abbas will climb down from his current position.

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The poll, conducted among 1,270 adults in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last week, shows widespread hostility among Palestinians toward the Sunni Arab states as well as Abbas personally.

More than 70 percent of respondents believed that the PA president — who has outstayed his term in office by almost nine years — should resign. Amid emphatic rejection of any American peace initiatives, 72 percent of respondents said they believed Sunni Arab states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia would fall into line behind Trump, and that Abbas would eventually resume contacts with the US.

Overall, the poll painted a bleak picture of Palestinian opinion. “More than three quarters believe that Palestine is no longer the Arabs first cause,” a commentary accompanying the poll observed. “Indeed, more than 70% believe that despite the continuation of Israeli occupation, an alliance already exists between Sunni Arab states and Israel.”

The poll indicated firm support for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, with Palestinians “firmly opposed to the disarmament of the various armed groups in the Gaza Strip.” Nearly half of respondents expressed support for an “armed intifada,” while a decisive majority backed the prosecution of Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged “war crimes.”

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