A poll conducted among Israeli Arabs finds them unwilling to recognize Mahmoud Abbas' authority to negotiate with Israel on their behalf.
A survey conducted by the Mada al-Carmel- Arab Center for Applied Social Research found that most Israeli Arabs feel that Palestinian negotiators lack the mandate to make concessions on key issues in peace talks with Israel, including the right of return, the future of Jerusalem, formal recognition of the state of Israel, as well as other territorial concessions.
Professor Nadim Rouhana, who conducted the poll, said: “These results essentially imply that Israeli Arabs are telling Abbas and the PA that they have no right to make decisions that impact upon their future.”
The poll, consisting of a representative sample of 500 Israeli Arabs, was conducted just as the Annapolis peace summit was at its peak. It focused on key issues that separate the Israeli and Palestinian sides, namely the right of return for Palestinian refugees, formal recognition by Palestinians of the Jewish state, the future of Jerusalem, as well as bilateral territorial exchanges on the part of both parties.
These results indicate that Israeli Arabs clearly do not trust the Palestinian negotiating team in Annapolis, nor find them competent to make concessions on their behalf. 65.6% of respondents stated that the Palestinian Authority lacks the mandate to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state. A clear majority (79.8%) indicated that negotiators do not have their mandate to concede on the “right of return” for Palestinians refugees. A staggering 81% of Israeli Arabs stated that the Palestinian team in Annapolis did not have their consent to make any concessions regarding Jerusalem.
42.8%: Let the refugees come home
Some 73% of Arab respondents were also unwilling to allow PA negotiators to make bilateral territorial concessions on their behalf. The reasons for this refusal vary; 56.9% of respondents said that: “Such concessions degrade the Palestinians who are treated like pawns in Israeli hands.” An additional 62.6% of those polled feared that making such “territorial swaps” would strip them of their rights as Israeli citizens.
Also, 55.7% of Israeli Arabs noted the "atrocious conditions in the territories" as the reason for their refusal, where as an additional 56% maintained that corruption and poor government in the PA make territorial exchanges a bad idea.
On the issue of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, the Israeli-Arab voice is clear: 42.8% of respondents said that Palestinian refuges ought to be allowed to return to Israel; 18.5% felt that displaced Palestinians ought to be given a choice between returning to Israel and receiving monetary compensation.
Finally, 6% of Israeli Arabs felt that the solution to the refugee problem ought to be relocation within Arab countries as well as monetary compensation.
Rouhana, who conducted the poll, explained that these figures are clearly indicative of mistrust for the PA amongst Israeli Arabs.
Clearly, Israeli Arabs feel that the Palestinian Authority does not speak or act on their behalf. “Abbas addressed all the Palestinian populace at Annapolis Tuesday, but deliberately failed to mention the Israeli-Arab contingent,” said Rouhana.
“This poll clearly indicates that Israeli Arabs do not find Abbas and the PA competent to make decisions on key issues that directly impact upon their futures. They clearly do not trust Abbas to make key concessions on their behalf in the same way that they did Arafat.”
Rouhana went on to say that Israeli Arabs are especially fearful of PA recognition of a Jewish state of Israel. “Israeli Arabs are well aware of Israeli apprehensions regarding a ‘two-state solution’. At the same time, they fear that the establishment of a Palestinian state and its recognition of the state of Israel would endanger their rights as Israeli citizens," he said.
"The Israeli Arab populace is essentially telling Abbas that he cannot make territorial swaps with Israel, nor can he officially recognize the Jewish state."