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Why most Palestinians don't support Israeli-Palestinian talks – or another intifada

Only 1 in 3 Palestinians are in favor of the Israeli-Palestinian talks that open today in Washington, but hardly anyone showed up to a Ramallah protest – signaling apathy.

By Correspondent / September 2, 2010

Palestinians take part in a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah against direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations September 1.

Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

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Ramallah, West Bank

While Washington might be abuzz with the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks today after a nearly two-year hiatus, only 1 in 3 Palestinians support the negotiations according to a late August poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.

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Though the 17-year-old peace process has yielded trappings of self-rule amid Israel's military occupation, Palestinians have largely lost hope that summits such as this week's in Washington can deliver on their ultimate goal of Palestinian statehood.

While a majority oppose the armed uprising Hamas has been calling for, pervasive apathy and distrust here highlight the more intangible barriers that Israeli and Palestinian leaders alike must overcome – in addition to final status issues such as Jerusalem, borders, and refugees.

"Had this been the first round of talks, then we would have hoped for a good solution,'' says Reem Abu Latif, an architectural engineer. "However, this is the 20th time, and we know the result. Now we are expecting nothing. Nor do we care.''

In addition, many resent the international pressure that pushed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to drop his precondition of an Israeli settlement freeze.

"The Palestinian Authority is very small and very weak, and this is why they decided to accept the negotiations,'' says shopkeeper Ali Mahmoud. "The more pressure there is on the PA, the more the international community loses credibility [with Palestinians].

Perception of peace talks among Palestinians

The public's political fatigue after decades of alternating between peace talks and uprising was on display on Wednesday morning in Al Manara Square, Ramallah's commercial core.

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