A vast majority of people in Arab countries are not in favor of normalizing ties with Israel without settling the Palestinian issue, according to a recently published survey.

Some 88% of over 28,000 respondents across 13 countries in the Middle East and North Africa opposed diplomatic recognition of Israel, findings of the annual Arab Opinion Index showed.

Only 6% supported formal recognition of Israel and 6% declined to answer, according to the data released last week.

The survey, conducted by the Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, included in-person interviews with 28,288 individual respondents.

Respondents who opposed diplomatic ties with Israel based their positions on reasons relating mainly to Israel’s colonialist nature, racist and expansionist policies, and persistence in occupying Palestinian land.

The Arab Opinion Index, the largest public opinion survey carried out in the Arab world, was released amid a wave of normalization deals with Israel.

The UAE was the first to go down the contentious path, announcing a US-brokered agreement in August that was formalized in Washington on Sept. 15.

It was followed by Bahrain, despite widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who say the agreements are a betrayal of their cause.

The Palestinian Authority has said that any deal with Israel should be based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and the principle of “land for peace,” not the “peace for peace” position pushed by Israel.

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