Arab Public shows solidarity with Palestinians and support for Hamas

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies announced the results of the public opinion poll regarding the Israeli war on Gaza on Wednesday. The poll was carried out on a sample of 8000 respondents from 16 Arab countries. The survey questions were selected to determine the opinions of citizens in the Arab region on important topics related to the Israeli war on Gaza.

The results of the survey demonstrate the locality of the war as felt by Arab public opinion, with 97 percent of respondents expressing psychological stress as a result of the war on Gaza. 84 percent expressed a sense of great psychological stress.

About 80 percent of respondents reported that they regularly follow news of the war, compared to 7 percent who said that they do not follow it, a further indication that the Arab public sees this war as a local event. To access the news 54 percent of respondents relied on television, compared to 43 percent who relied on the internet.

It is noteworthy that the results highlighted that Arab public opinion does not believe that the military operation carried out by Hamas on 7 October last year was in pursuit of a foreign agenda. 35 percent of respondents considered that the most important reason for the operation was the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, while 24 percent attributed it mostly to defense against Israel’s targeting of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and 8 percent saw it as a result of the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip.

While 67 percent of respondents reported that the military operation carried out by Hamas was a legitimate resistance operation, 19 percent reported that it was a somewhat flawed but legitimate resistance operation, and 3 percent said that it was a legitimate resistance operation that involved heinous or criminal acts, while 5 percent said it was an illegitimate operation.

The results showed that there is an Arab consensus of 92 percent expressing solidarity with the citizens of the Arab region with the Palestinian people in Gaza. While 69 percent of respondents expressed their solidarity with Palestinians and support for Hamas, 23 percent expressed solidarity with Palestinians despite opposing Hamas, and 1 percent expressed a lack of solidarity with the Palestinians.

The majority of respondents rejected comparisons between Hamas and ISIS made by predominately Israeli and Western politicians and media personalities.

When asked about the responses of regional and international powers to Israel’s war on Gaza, 94 percent considered the US position negatively, with 82 percent considering it very bad. In the same context, 79 percent, 78 percent, and 75 percent of respondents viewed the positions of France, the UK, and Germany negatively. Opinion was split over the positions of Iran, Turkey, Russia, and China. While (48 percent, 47 percent, 41 percent, and 40 percent, respectively) considered them positive (37 percent, 40 percent, 42 percent, and 38 percent, respectively).

In the same context, 76 percent of respondents reported that their position toward the United States following the Israeli war on Gaza had become more negative, indicating that the Arab public has lost confidence in the US. Furthermore, respondents demonstrated a near consensus (81 percent) in their belief that the US government is not serious about working to establish a Palestinian state.

About 77 percent of respondents named the United States and Israel as the biggest threat to the security and stability of the region. While 51 percent saw the United States as the most threatening, 26 percent considered the biggest threat to be Israel. While 82 percent of respondents reported that US media coverage of the war was biased towards Israel, only 7 percent saw it as neutral.

Arab public opinion sees the Palestinian Cause as an Arab issue, and not exclusively a Palestinian issue. A consensus of 92 percent believes that the Palestinian question concerns all Arabs and not just the Palestinians. On the other hand, 6 percent said that it concerns the Palestinians alone and they alone must work to solve it. It is worth noting that this percentage is the highest recorded since polling began in 2011, rising from 76 percent at the end of 2022, to 92 percent this year. Some countries recorded significant increases. In Morocco, it rose from 59 percent in 2022 to 95 percent, in Egypt from 75 to 94 percent, in Sudan from 68 to 91 percent, and in Saudi Arabia from 69 to 95 percent, a statistically significant increase that represents a fundamental shift in the opinions of the citizens of these countries.

Arab public opinion is almost unanimous in rejecting recognition of Israel, at a rate of 89 percent, up from 84 percent in 2022, compared to only 4 percent who support its recognition. Of particular note is the increase in the percentage of those who rejected recognition of Israel in Saudi Arabia from 38 percent in the 2022 poll to 68 percent in this survey. Such a statistically significant increase also applies to other countries such as Morocco, where the percentage rose from 67 to 78 percent, and Sudan, where it increased from 72 to 81 percent.

When asked about their opinions on what measures Arab governments should take to stop the war in Gaza, 36 percent of respondents stated that Arab governments should suspend all relations or normalization processes with Israel, while 14 percent of them stated that aid and support should be brought into Gaza without Israeli approval, and 11 percent said that the Arab governments should use oil as a weapon to assert pressure on Israel and its supporters.

There is a near consensus among Palestinian respondents from the West Bank, including Jerusalem, around 95 percent, that safety and freedom of movement between the governorates and cities of the West Bank and their sense of security and personal safety have been affected negatively since 7 October 2023.

A further 60 percent of Palestinian respondents in the West Bank said that they had been subjected to or were witnesses to raids by the occupation army forces, while 44 percent said that they were subjected to arrest or interrogation by the Israeli army, and 22 percent reported that they were subjected to harassment by settlers.

This survey is the first of its kind to gauge public opinion on the topic across the Arab region. The fieldwork was conducted from 12 December 2023 to 5 January 2024 in Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and the West Bank, Palestine, including Jerusalem. The surveyed communities represent 95 percent of the population of the Arab region and its far-flung regions. The sample in each of the aforementioned communities was 500 men and women, drawn according to cluster and self-weighted sampling methods to ensure that every individual in each country had an equal probability of appearing in the sample.