Majority of Jordanians remain against normalization with Israel — poll

Half view relations with US as ‘very important’

(Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Half of the Jordanian public expressed dissatisfaction with the government's official efforts in dealing with major problems, yet few Jordanians are positively inclined to take to the streets in mass protests, according to a new poll.اضافة اعلان

The Jordanian public opinion poll, conducted last November, was commissioned by the Washington Institute and implemented by an independent local company. It showed that relations with the US still enjoy significant popular support among Jordanians. Just over half of Jordanians (51 percent) say that "good relations" with the US are "very important" or "somewhat important" to their country. China is a close second, at 49 percent, while Russia ranks third at just 31 percent.

While support for US-Jordanian relations during previous years has seen a sharp decline, from 58 percent who considered it important in October 2017 to 14 percent in January 2018, support has rebounded regularly over the past three years. On the other hand, public support for Jordan’s relations with China and Russia has declined, with 66 percent and 47 percent of Jordanians rating these relations as “very important” or “somewhat important,” respectively, in October 2017.

Even the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is unexpectedly subject to mixed opinions: about half (49 percent) expect it will actually have a positive impact on the region, while the other half (45 percent) expect a negative one.

By way of comparison, only 29 percent of Jordanians say that "increasing Russian arms sales to Arab countries" has positive effects on the region. But an even larger minority, 45 percent, say they see at least some positive impact from "increasing Chinese investment in many Arab countries".

When asked more specifically about US policies, many Jordanians chose "pressing for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict" as a top priority for Washington's regional agenda. This is roughly in line with previous surveys, with 43 percent giving the same answer to this question in November of 2020 — but a much higher percentage than recent results from the Arab Gulf states. Jordanians see that the next priority for US policy should be "promoting democracy and human rights in Arab countries" (26 percent), a shift from choosing to contain Iran last November.

Regarding normalization with Israel, Jordanian public opinion remains extremely negative, despite the recent warmth in official relations, with only a fifth of Jordanians viewing the “new economic deals between Jordan, Egypt, and Israel” in a positive light. Only 13 percent of Jordanians view "the peace agreements concluded last year between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan" in a positive light. But views of these deals are more positive than Jordanians' November 2020 views of the Abraham Peace Accords, which had only 9 percent support.

At the same time, the Jordanian public also views Iran very negatively.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) agree with this statement: "Wherever Iran interferes, it harms the local Arabs and does not help the Palestinians." The same overwhelming majority (64 percent) see negative consequences for the recent election of Ebrahim Raisi as Iran's president. Only 14 percent say it is "somewhat important" even for Jordan to have good relations with Iran. The vast majority (64 percent) opposes "the moves of some Arab governments to restore relations with the Assad regime" in Syria.

This sentiment is in stark contrast with recent official policy, and with the recent dominant discourse on Jordanian social media — providing further evidence that many respondents are willing to disagree in particular with the "acceptable political" line that prevails today. In sharp contrast to their views on Syria, nearly two-thirds of Jordanians agreed with “gradual steps to improve Arab relations with Turkey,” in line with the 65 percent of Jordanians who viewed the Jordanian-Turkish relationship positively in November of 2020.

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