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WASHINGTON - A study published here Thursday suggests that the Palestinians are more willing than ever to compromise with Israel and that now is the time to move forward to a final-status solution.
The study, conducted by Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki for the US Institute of Peace (USIP), analyzes trends in Palestinian public opinion and finds it "is not an impediment to progress in the peace process."
According to Shikaki, who is considered one of the leading experts on Palestinian public opinion, the Palestinians are now more moderate than in the past and are willing to move forward on the basis of a solution which is accepted by most Israelis.
The study, which is based on several opinion polls and is aimed at examining long-term trends, does not ignore the rise of Hamas in the Palestinian political arena, but claims support for it does not have any effect on the willingness to compromise.
On the contrary, even during the years of the intifada there was an increase in the population's support for compromising with Israel, though during those years there was also an increase in support for violence against Israel, Shikaki said. According to his study, now, in the post-Arafat era, there is a decline in the support for violent acts.
The study shows that between 2000 and 2004 a majority of Palestinians supported terror attacks against Israelis, but this trend has changed and now 60% oppose the use of violence.
Shikaki claims the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza "only confirmed in the public's mind the belief that violence pays and in doing so rewarded the Islamists while making the PA more irrelevant than ever."
The study points to a possible positive outcome of negotiations. He finds a majority support the two-state solution, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and accepting the proposals outlined in previous documents. "If the PA does hold a referendum on a final-status agreement, the public will most likely support it," Shikaki concludes.
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