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Survey: Growing Minority in Persian Gulf Countries Approve of Informal Ties with Israelis

Only 39 percent of Gazans expressed a negative opinion of the Abraham Accords.
An Emirati visitor stands beneath the waving flags of countries participating in Expo 2020 in the Gulf Emirate of Dubai on October 6, 2021. Karim Sahib/AFP
An Emirati visitor stands beneath the waving flags of countries participating in Expo 2020 in the Gulf Emirate of Dubai on October 6, 2021. Karim Sahib/AFP

A new poll from the Washington Institute found that although more members of the Gulf region disapprove of the US-brokered Abraham Accords than before, there are growing sentiments toward allowing informal contact with Israelis.

In countries where the Abraham Accords – a series of normalizations between Israel and Arab countries – were initially unpopular, those attitudes have hardened. For example, those who see the accords as “very negative” in Lebanon increased from 41 percent in November 2020 to 66 percent in March 2022.

Of the Arab populations interviewed, the least likely to express a negative viewpoint of the Abraham Accords were the Palestinians. When asked in June 2022, almost half (48 percent) of those living in east Jerusalem saw the Abraham Accords in at least a somewhat positive light. 

Only 39 percent of Gazans expressed a negative opinion of the Abraham Accords.

While more than two-thirds of citizens in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE view the Abraham Accords unfavorably, the idea of ties with Israelis is becoming increasingly popular in Gulf countries. Forty percent of Saudis now agree that informal business or sports ties with Israelis should be allowed.

Allowing such ties with Israelis remained at 85 percent in Egypt and 87 percent in Jordan, despite longstanding official relations. A resounding 94 percent of Kuwaitis and 93 percent of Lebanese surveyed disagreed with the idea of ties with Israelis. 

However, a majority of Palestinians express openness to some form of contact with Israelis – with 60 percent of those in the West Bank, 62 percent of Gazans and 84 percent of those in east Jerusalem agreeing that Palestinians should engage in “direct personal contacts and dialogue with Israelis, in order to help the Israeli peace camp advocate a just solution” to the conflict.

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