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Poll: 96% of Saudis oppose normalisation with Israel

A recent opinion poll revealed that 96 per cent of Saudis believe that Arab countries should cut all ties with Israel in protest against the Israeli forces’ aggression against the Gaza Strip, according to The New York Times on Friday.

The newspaper noted that this poses a significant challenge to US President Joe Biden’s administration’s efforts for Saudi Arabia to normalise diplomatic relations with Israel.

According to the poll conducted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an American research organisation that is generally pro-Israel, 40 per cent of Saudi participants expressed positive attitudes towards the Palestinian movement Hamas, compared to only 10 per cent in a poll conducted several months before the war.

According to the opinion poll, in which 1,000 Saudis participated from 14 November to 6 December, just 16 per cent of Saudis believe: “Hamas should stop calling for the destruction of Israel, and instead accept a permanent two-state solution to the conflict based on the 1967 borders supported by the Saudi government.”

In addition, analysts say that, although Saudi Arabia has become more authoritarian over the past eight years, the country’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, must still consider public opinion when making decisions.

Before the war, when it seemed that US efforts to mediate a Saudi-Israeli normalisation agreement were gaining momentum, political analysts, US officials and some Saudi officials confirmed that young people in Saudi Arabia had become less interested in the Palestinian issue than previous generations; therefore they were more receptive to establishing relations with Israel.

Given that Saudi Arabia does not issue regular and reliable opinion polls, it is not known how accurate the allegations that were made before the war were about a lack of interest in the Palestinian issue and acceptance of normalisation with Israel. However, since the beginning of the aggression on the Gaza Strip, explicit support for the Palestinian cause has spread, and hatred of Israel has increased among Saudis of all ages.

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