Majority of Palestinians don't believe Trump is serious about peace talks, poll finds

The US president has yet to achieve a significant breakthrough in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, and a new poll suggests that latter have very little faith that he will.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extends his hand to US President Donald Trump at the Presidential Palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem May 23, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extends his hand to US President Donald Trump at the Presidential Palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem May 23, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believe that US President Donald Trump is not serious about renewing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, a public opinion poll found.
A total of 79.3% of Palestinians believe Trump is either somewhat or very unserious about renewing the negotiations, whereas 11.9% hold that the American president is either somewhat or very serious about reviving them.
Since Trump entered the White House on January 20, he and a number of his aides have met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas many times, with the stated goal of achieving “a historic peace deal,” but they have yet to achieve a significant breakthrough with the two parties.
The poll of 1,199 people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was conducted on August 13-21 by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, a Ramallah-area polling and information center. The margin of error was 3%.
The survey also found that a majority of Palestinians prefer peace talks to armed conflict with Israel.
Some 54.2% of respondents said they somewhat or strongly agree with peace negotiations with Israel, while 41.9% said that they somewhat or strongly disagree with them. Meanwhile, 56.1% of Palestinians said they oppose attacks against Israelis compared to 28.8% who said they support them.
The poll also showed that a strong majority of Palestinians support maintaining, rather than dismantling, the PA.
Some 65.5% of Palestinians said that the PA should be maintained, whereas 24.8% want it to be dissolved.
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During past rounds of peace talks, Palestinian officials including PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that if negotiations fail to produce an independent Palestinian state, they will dissolve the PA. However, after the failure of negotiations in 2011 and again in 2014, the Palestinian leadership did not dissolve the PA.
Moreover, the survey found that Palestinians believe Israel and Hamas are most responsible for the recent aggravation of the electricity crisis in Gaza, even though the PA cut its electricity budget for the Strip.
Some 38.3% of respondents said Israel is responsible for the electricity shortage, and 30.4% said Hamas is responsible, while only 20.4% pointed their fingers at the PA.
The PA cuts its electricity budget for Gaza by some NIS 25 million in June, exacerbating an already short power supply. Israel implemented the electricity cut, as the Israel Electric Corporation produces the power and the PA owes the IEC for unpaid bills.
Reflecting past results, the poll also indicated that Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader who is serving five life sentences for five murders during the Second Intifada, would garner the most votes in a presidential election, if it were to take place today without Abbas’s participation.
Some 26.1% of respondents said they would vote for Barghouti, while 12.1% stated they would vote for Hamas Politburo Chairman Ismail Haniyeh.
PA presidential elections have not taken place since 2005, when Abbas was elected to a four-year term.
He extended his term until the next election was to take place, in 2010, citing the PLO Constitution, and subsequently was voted into office indefinitely by the PLO Central Council.