A vast majority of Palestinians polled in recent surveys say they or their families have seen a negative economic impact from the latest wave of violence. And while most Palestinians feel deeply alienated from their leaders in both Fatah and Hamas, a strong majority remain committed to the democratic process. Dahlia Scheindlin follows up her analysis of recent Israeli polls.
Four months after the start of the wave of stabbing attacks and killing of perpetrators, Palestinian support for the violence may be waning, according to a recent public opinion survey.
In the first few weeks of October 2015, when a rash of Palestinian stabbing and vehicular attacks began, the Palestinian public displayed a dramatic rise in support for a new intifada, based on survey research. That support climbed from just one-quarter in April 2015, and by October an absolute majority of 63 percent supported an immediate uprising, according to polls by the Arab World Research and Development Center. In December, Khalil Shikaki’s PCPSR study showed that two-thirds supported the use of knives in the “current confrontations,” (although three-quarters rejected the participation of young girls). Similar to the AWRAD data, 60 percent supported returning to an armed intifada in the absence of peace negotiations.
But barely three months later, AWRAD’s data shows a change. In its poll from late January, 54 percent of Palestinians now oppose a third intifada. West Bank respondents are more likely to oppose it: 57 percent compared to 48 percent among Gazans.
These results can be viewed in light of historic patterns. Throughout the prime “Oslo years,” in the mid-1990s, Palestinians opposed violence against Israelis by large margins. As the process waned in the late 1990s, opposition eroded. Palestinian public support for violence reached a peak when the Second Intifada broke out after the Camp David negotiations collapsed in 2000.
In their book where those findings appear, polling experts Jacob Shamir and Khalil Shikaki concluded that Palestinian (and Israeli) public opinion is rational: when diplomacy fails the publics turn to violence as a means of advancing their political interests. Thus it is also significant that in AWRAD’s January data, half of Palestinians believe the current violence will impede progress to a Palestinian state, compared to just 39 percent who believe it will advance statehood.
Further, the heightened cycle of violence these last few months has led Palestinians to feel that their lives are getting worse....Read More