85% of Palestinian residents in the West Bank are interested in cooperation with Israel, according to a survey by Geocartography Knowledge ahead of the regional cooperation conference, chaired by Minister of Galilee and Negev Development Silvan Shalom.
The survey examined Palestinian attitudes about cooperation with Israel. It found that as Palestinians' geographical proximity and familiarity with Israel increased, there was greater willingness to cooperate, and vice versa.
The survey asked 1,000 people living between Jenin and Hebron whether they were interested in joint projects with Israel in several fields, including humanitarian aid, emergencies (such as rescue teams in case of fires or earthquakes), sewage, water, and electricity, as well as social issues, such as exchanges of youth delegations and soccer games.
Similar to the results of the Palestinian survey, Israeli respondents expressed willingness for greater regional cooperation, but at a lower percentage of 65-80%. While most Palestinians in the West Bank expressed willingness for all types of cooperation, there was a marked decline in favor of cooperation in Arab states. 25-40% of respondents in Jordan were interested in joint projects with Israel, and 20% of respondents in Morocco expressed such willingness.
The results indicate a reverse correlation between greater information about Israel based on media sources rather than personal familiarity and the willingness to cooperate with Israel. Local pollsters conducted the surveys in the Arab countries; each survey included 1,000 respondents.
While the survey found that the decisive majority of West Bank Palestinians want continued relations with Israel, it also shows a gap between the public's position and the position of the political leaders, who do not want direct official cooperation. For example, the Palestinian national economy minister was fired two years ago after media leaks that he had met Silvan Shalom.
Participants at the regional cooperation conference said that most Israeli-Palestinian ties are held through mediators and international parties. The conference gave an award to Quartet Emissary to the Middle East Tony Blair, who is a critical personality in establishing Israeli-Palestinian ties.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 5, 2011
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