Three-quarters of Arabs identify with Palestinian cause, according to 2022 survey

Opinion poll commissioned by US-based Arab Center finds 84% see Israel as the greatest threat to the Arab world

From the Atlantic to the Gulf, 76 per cent of Arabs living under diverse regimes and in widely different circumstances agree “the Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs, and not just the Palestinians alone”, according to a 2022 opinion poll commissioned by the Washington-based Arab Center.

The survey explained why most Arabs identify with and consider the Palestinian struggle as an Arab cause by showing that 80 per cent of respondents perceived the Arabs as a single nation.

Asked which states pose the greatest threat to the Arab world, 84 per cent responded Israel, 78 per cent the US, and 57 per cent each Russia and Iran. Three-quarters regarded US policy as “negative” due to Washington’s support for Israel.

Some 84 per cent rejected normalisation with Israel while half of the 8 per cent who supported this said it should be conditional on Palestinian statehood. In Egypt and Jordan, 84 per cent and 94 per cent, respectively, opposed their countries’ peace treaties with Israel. Two-thirds of Moroccans and 72 per cent of Sudanese rejected their governments’ normalisation with Israel.


In Saudi Arabia, which has been pressed by the US to open relations with Israel, 57 per cent had no opinion on normalisation, 38 per cent rejected it and 5 per cent expressed support.

Two-thirds of respondents “cited Israel’s colonial and expansionist policies, as well as its racism toward the Palestinians and its persistence in expropriating Palestinian land”, as reasons for opposing normalisation of relations.

Although 85 per cent of respondents identified as very religious or religious, only 5 per cent gave “religious reasons” for opposition to normalisation, contradicting the claim that the Arab-Israeli conflict is religious.

In addition to Palestine, the survey covered a wide range of issues. More than 50 per cent of respondents said their countries were “headed in the wrong direction”, compared to 42 per cent who took the opposite view. Those in the eastern Arab world and Nile Valley cited economic troubles, instability, mismanagement and failed political systems.

Residents of the Gulf claimed conditions had improved while respondents in north Africa were divided. Nearly 50 per cent regarded political conditions in their countries as negative, while 44 per cent said they were positive. Those adopting a negative view cited unemployment, high prices and poverty. Three-quarters said corruption was widespread. More than 70 per cent favoured democracy while 19 per cent did not.

The Arab Opinion Index, the largest survey in the Arab world, was first conducted in 2011 in a dozen countries, which has since risen to 14: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Tunisia. The Emirates, Bahrain and Syria are absentees.

The 2022 survey is based on June to December face-to-face interviews with 33,000 individuals conducted by a team of 920 fielded by the Arab Center’s Qatar partner.

Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen contributes news from and analysis of the Middle East to The Irish Times