The recently released quarterly Palestinian Public Opinion Poll yielded “very frightening and pessimistic results” according to Khalil Shikaki, Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.
Focused on confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians since October, 1,270 people were interviewed to assess the Palestinian outlook in four categories: First, confidence in the Palestinian domestic position (including Abbas, Fatah, and Hamas); second, the Israeli-Palestinian confrontations; third, whether the two-state solution is still considered relevant; and fourth, whether Palestinians should abandon the Oslo Accords.
Palestinian confidence in their leaders is the area Mr. Shikaki found most alarming. Twenty-five percent of the Palestinians surveyed believe that Abbas is serious about dismantling the Oslo Accords. Abbas garners only 31 percent support. Currently, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win 10 percentage points over Abbas, where previously he led by only 5 percentage points. This represents a major reduction in Abbas’ popularity among Palestinians.
Another trend reflected in the data was the broad Palestinian support for violence against Israelis, with young adults as the biggest supporters of the violence. Respondents between the ages of 18 and 22 showed a 72 percent support for violence, compared to 70 percent during the second intifada and 57 percent support just three months ago.
This support includes attacks on civilians, as opposed to just soldiers and/or settlers. Past surveys revealed more differentiation between civilians, settlers and soldiers; but now there is very little discrimination between these groups. Interestingly, 73 percent of those surveyed were against schoolgirls acting on their own to stab Israelis.
The women themselves support violence less than their male counterparts, but not by much. Mr. Shikaki attributes this difference to women having to shoulder responsibilities earlier in life. He believes that de-radicalization goes hand in hand with increased responsibility. Women tend to marry, work, and have children earlier than men and are therefore de-radicalized earlier than men. Gazans, university students, and those living in refugee camps