51% of Israeli-Arabs don’t believe peace coming

By Yitzhak Benhorin, YNet News – 1 Oct 2009

Saban Center survey shows strong correlation between viewing Al-Jazeera and skepticism regarding Mideast peace prospects; 16% of Arab-Israelis say Hamas won Gaza war

WASHINGTON – Fifty-one percent of Israel’s Arabs do not believe peace between Israel and the Palestinians will ever be reached, according to a survey conducted by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

The poll, published Thursday, showed that 34% of Israeli-Arabs believe that while peace is possible, it is still a long way off. Only 11% of the respondents said a peace agreement is possible within the next five years.

The survey found a strong correlation between skepticism regarding the peace prospects and viewing the Al-Jazeera television network, which is based in Qatar. Fifty-three percent of Israeli-Arabs who regularly tune in to Al Jazeera believe the Arab-Israeli conflict will escalate in the coming years, the poll showed, while only 30% of Israeli-Arabs who get their news from local TV stations or other global networks expressed similar pessimism.

The survey showed that Al-Jazeera is the main source of news for the Israeli-Arab public. Forty-eight percent of them get their news from the Qatari-based station, while 24% prefer the Israeli TV networks; another 11% watch MBC (based in the United Arab Emirates), and an additional five percent tune in to Saudi network Al Arabiya to keep in touch with current events.

According to the Saban Center poll, 55% of Israeli-Arabs surf the Internet on a near daily basis, 14% go online a few times a week, and only 24% do not use the Internet at all.

Asked who they thought was to blame for the dire situation in Gaza, 44% of the respondents said both Israel and the Palestinians were equally to blame, 26% accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ government, while another 20% blamed Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave.

As for the January war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the poll showed that 29% of Israeli-Arabs believe Israel won, 21% claim that the Palestinian people triumphed, while 16% said Hamas came out on top.

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