Public support for normalizing ties with Israel declines sharply in Gulf

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa (Alex Brandon - AP)

Middle East Monitor  /  July 19, 2022

Public support for the normalization of ties with Israel has declined sharply in three Gulf states, a survey conducted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) has found. [WINEP is an AIPAC think-tank; eds.]

The results of the survey, the TWI said, demonstrated that the percentage of those who view the Abraham Accords favourably in Saudi Arabia (KSA), Bahrain and the UAE has dropped.

According to TWI, the new survey was compared to polling from 2020, noting that more than two thirds of citizens in Bahrain, KSA and the UAE now view the Abraham Accords unfavourably.

“Current attitudes contrast with the relative optimism exhibited by a significant percentage of Emiratis, Bahrainis, Saudis and even some Egyptians in the months after the announcement of the Abraham Accords,” TWI said.

“When first polled in November 2020, attitudes in the UAE and Bahrain were effectively split as to whether they saw the agreement in a positive or negative light,” it said.

It added: “Apart from the people of the signatory countries, 40 per cent of Saudis and Qataris then also supported the Accords. Now, the percentage of those who see the agreement in a positive light hover between 19 per cent to 25 per cent in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE.”

The 2020 poll found 47 per cent of the citizens in the UAE supported normalization, while the new poll found this had fallen to just 20 per cent, while 76 per cent oppose it.

Bahrain and the UAE signed normalization agreements under the auspices of former US President Donald Trump, while KSA, which has secret ties with Israel, has yet to join the agreement.