The majority of Palestinians remain pessimistic regarding peace talks with Israel and reconciliation between the Fatah and Hamas, according to a recent public opinion poll.
The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion (PCPO), was released on Wednesday and covered a sample of 1,000 Palestinian respondents aged 18 and above, living in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.
According to the poll, 53.5 per cent of the Palestinian public oppose the return to direct negotiations with Israel after Tel Aviv refusal of the French initiative, which called for a multilateral international peace conference between Israel and the Palestinians.
In a statement, Dr Nabil Kukali, president and founder of the PCPO, said that the denial of the French initiative by Israel resulted in increased distrust among Palestinians regarding Israel’s commitment to finding “a radical and just solution to end the conflict and build bridges of trust between the two sides.”
Kukali asserted that the Israeli government’s denial of the French peace initiative “undermined a real opportunity to help both sides return to the negotiation table,” highlighting that the poll showed that around 70 per cent of the Palestinian public did not trust Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has repeatedly expressed support for the French initiative and, in April, shelved the submission of a new anti-settlement resolution to the UN out of fear that doing so could thwart progress of new French proposals, causing outrage among various Palestinian political factions.
Despite the seeming disappointment with Israel’s refusal to accept the French peace talks, the poll showed that a majority of Palestinians did not believe the French initiative would prove to be fruitful for Palestinians.
When asked “in your view, would the French initiative meet the Palestinian requirements in the peace process?,” only 35.2 per cent said yes, while 41 per cent said no. Some 23.8 per cent were unsure.
Kukali further concluded that the Palestinian public was deeply pessimistic about the prospect of achieving a reconciliation between the Fatah and Hamas movements, with 51.1 per cent saying they were pessimistic, 29.2 per cent saying they were optimistic and 19.7 per cent saying they were unsure.
The relationship between Hamas and Fatah has been in a dire state after a government of national consensus was dissolved in June 2015, one year after it was first announced.
The two Palestinian parties have had particularly tense relations since Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 and became the ruling party in the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, municipal elections set to be held earlier last month were postponed following a controversial decision by the Fatah-run Supreme Court in Ramallah to ban elections in the Gaza Strip.
When asked if they were optimistic or pessimistic about the general future given the current economic and political situation of Palestine, 59.2 per cent said they were pessimistic, 25.1 per cent were optimistic and 15.7 per cent were unsure.