A recent survey conducted by the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Affairs has revealed that 96 percent of Saudi nationals advocate for Arab countries to sever ties with Israel in response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The poll sheds light on the challenges faced by the United States in its efforts to persuade Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel.
Prior to the Gaza conflict, the U.S. had actively pursued an agreement aimed at normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. This potential deal was expected to follow in the footsteps of existing normalization agreements brokered under the Trump administration, including those with Bahrain, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates.
In a September interview with Fox News, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had indicated that the two countries were moving closer to such an agreement on a daily basis. However, since then, Riyadh has halted talks of normalization, emphasizing its diplomatic efforts as a means to "stop the ongoing escalation."
Despite Saudi Arabia's monarchical system, the survey highlights the significant role of public opinion in shaping the decisions of Arab leaders. The findings also reveal a notable shift in sentiment, with 40 percent of Saudis expressing positive attitudes toward Hamas, compared to a mere 10 percent in a poll conducted months before the outbreak of the Gaza conflict.
The survey, conducted on Friday, additionally indicates that a majority of respondents in Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt hold favorable views toward Hamas, underscoring a broader regional trend.