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Poll: Majority of Palestinians back suicide bombing
( 2003-10-20 13:44) (Agencies)

Seventy-five per cent of Palestinians support the suicide bombing at an Israeli restaurant two weeks ago in which 21 people, including four children, were killed, a Palestinian survey showed Sunday.

The survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which questioned 1,318 respondents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, also showed that 85 per cent of Palestinians support a "mutual cessation of violence by both sides."

The poll found considerable anti-American feeling among Palestinians. Just over 95 per cent of respondents said the United States was "not sincere" when it says it seeks to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

In a question asking whether they supported or opposed the October 4 bombing in the northern city of Haifa, 75 per cent said they either supported the attack or strongly supported it.

Seventeen percent of respondents said they opposed the bombing and 4.4 per cent said they strongly opposed the attack.

Ayoub Mustafa, one of the pollsters, told Reuters the number may have been artificially high because respondents were not told in the question that all the 21 dead were civilians.

He said 55 per cent of respondents said they supported "armed attacks" in Israel and this number might be more reflective of Palestinian support for the Haifa attack as it was the first time they had surveyed support for specific bombings.

The Haifa bombing was carried out by a woman who said she was avenging Israel's killing of her brother, an Islamic Jihad militant who the army said was planning a car-bomb attack.

Just over 89 per cent of Palestinians surveyed backed attacks against Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, land occupied by Israel which Palestinians want for a state. A similar number supported attacks against Israeli soldiers.

On the political front, President Yasser Arafat's popularity rose to its highest level in five years with 50 per cent of Palestinians saying they would vote for him again if there were elections, up from 35 per cent last year, the poll showed. About 80 per cent of respondents attributed Arafat's rise in popularity to Israel's plans to expel him from the Palestinian territories.

Almost 97 per cent said the United States, Israel's main ally, was biased in favor of the Jewish state.

The United States drew up a peace "road map" with the United Nations, the European Union and Russia this year which set out reciprocal steps for ending violence and establishing a Palestinian state in 2005. Progress on the road map has stalled.

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