Poll: 50 percent of Palestinians would alter covenant

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JERUSALEM — More than half of Palestinians would vote in favor of removing references from the Palestinian Covenant calling for the destruction of Israel if a referendum were held today, according to a poll released Sunday.

The poll, conducted by the Center for Palestine Research and Studies, registered 50.1 percent for and 38.6 percent against changing the charter, with 11.3 percent expressing no opinion.

Under the peace agreement, the Palestine Liberation Organization must convene the Palestinian National Council within two months of the inauguration of the elected Palestinian council to change the charter.

The survey, conducted earlier this month, polled 1,144 people and has a 3 percent margin of error.

The findings contrasted sharply with those from another poll taken by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center earlier this month. That survey showed only 26 percent thought Israel had a right to exist, indicating that basic attitudes may lag behind pragmatic political considerations.

However, the two polls indicated almost identical results on support for the peace process.

When the Center for Palestine Research and Studies surveyed attitudes toward the peace pact, 72.1 percent backed it, 17.5 percent opposed, 10.4 percent had no opinion.

When the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center asked if Palestinians supported or opposed the peace process, 72.7 percent favored it, 17.8 percent opposed it, and 9.5 percent had no opinion.

This is the least opposition to the peace process since the two largest Palestinian polling organizations began gauging opinions after the September 1993 Oslo Accords.

The PLO's Yasser Arafat scored his strongest support yet in the Palestinian poll, with 58 percent of Palestinians backing him.