Majority of Gulf Arabs support two-state solution, US think tank says

The surprising results were announced in a statement released by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

October 24, 2014 23:22
1 minute read.
Rabin, Clinton, and Arafat

From left; Former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, former US president Bill Clinton, and the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A majority of Gulf Arabs support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a new poll commissioned by a Washington think tank.

The surprising results were announced in a statement released by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank which describes itself as a research body that seeks to “advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them.”

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The institute commissioned the survey last month which asked a representative sample of 1,000 respondents in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates their opinions on the most pressing issues affecting the region, including the rise of Islamic State, the Israel-Palestine question, the role of the United States, and Iran.

According to the poll, when presented with the statement, "The best way forward is peace between Israel and a Palestinian state," 53 percent of Kuwaitis agreed. In UAE, the figure rose to 58 percent, while 61 percent of Saudi respondents seconded the notion.

The report indicated that one-third of all respondents in each country “strongly agreed” with the statement.

The survey also found that the Palestinian cause still resonates with a strong majority of Gulf Arabs, as evidenced by opposition to the notion that "Arab countries should pay more attention to their own internal issues than to the Palestinians."

The poll indicated that 60 percent of Kuwaitis disapproved of the statement. Of the pool of Saudi respondents, 65 percent were also opposed, as were 63 percent of UAE nationals.

The deep identification with the Palestinian cause is also attributed to the strong support that Gulf Arabs express for Hamas, the survey showed.

The Islamist group ruling Gaza scores high approval ratings, with 52 percent of Saudis, 53 percent of Kuwaitis, and 44 percent of Emiratis holding a favorable opinion.

The news is less encouraging for the Palestinian Authority. According to the survey, the Ramallah administration garners approximately 40 percent support in all three countries polled.

Gulf Arabs hold an overwhelmingly negative view of the Lebanese Shi’ite organization Hezbollah, with just 13 percent of Saudis, 15 percent of Emiratis, and 24 percent of Kuwaitis  saying they have a "fairly positive" opinion of the group.

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