New Egyptian Survey Data Show a Combination of Apathy and Hostility toward Israel

June 30, 2020 | David Pollock
About the author: David Pollock is the Kaufman fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he directs the Fikra Forum blog and the Arabic website.

Examining a reliable poll of Egyptian public opinion—a rare thing in this unfree country—David Pollock highlights some key findings about attitudes toward the Jewish state and its conflict with the Palestinians:

[T]he Egyptian public is much more concerned about domestic problems, including public health, than any foreign-policy issue. And when it comes to foreign affairs and U.S. policy, . . . only a third of Egyptians now rank “pushing for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict” in first place as their priority for U.S. engagement in the region. The majority of responses to this question are split among U.S. action with regard to Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Libya. And a third of Egyptians say that “the Palestinians and the Israelis are both to blame for their continuing conflict.”

This pattern is likely due in part to the Egyptian public’s very low expectation for progress on the Palestinian problem. A mere 16 percent have even “somewhat positive” expectations of the new Israeli government elected this spring. And even fewer, just nine percent, have a favorable opinion of the Trump peace plan. [Nonetheless], 49 percent, as in previous years, continue to say that good relations with the U.S. are important for their country.

But none of this means attitudes toward Israel have warmed:

There is . . . very little popular support for further “normalization” with Israel. A mere 6 percent agree that “people who want to have business or sports contacts with Israelis should be allowed to do so.” By contrast, half the Egyptian public “strongly disagrees” with that assertion.

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