The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank opposes the existence of the State of Israel, and aspire to replace it with a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.” Only one third of Palestinians are willing to “give up on some of our demands so the nation and our children will have good lives.” These are two of the finding of a survey conducted in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy between June 15 and 17. This is the first and only survey among Palestinians that has taken place since the abduction of the three yeshiva students near Hebron on June 12.
The survey indicates a significant hardening of the Palestinian public’s stance on the long-term issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, the data indicate that violence is not a popular option among Palestinians. Most prefer what is referred to as “popular resistance.” The survey further shows that Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip are taking much more extreme stances against Israel.
On the question “What should the primary Palestinian national goal be for the next five years?” 68% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and 55.4% of Palestinians in the West Bank (60.3% weighted total) supported the following response: “The goal must be action to return historic Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, to our hands.”
21.8% of Gaza Strip residents and 30.6% of West Bank residents (a weighted average of 27.3%) supported the following answer: “The goal must be to end the occupation of the West Bank in order to reach a two-state solution.” A smaller percentage of respondents (8.2% in the Gaza Strip, 11.2% in the West Banks, and 10.1% weighted) supported the following statement: “The goal must be action towards a one-state solution, for the entire region, from the river to the sea, in which Jews and Arabs enjoy equal rights.”
And from a different angle: to the question of “If Palestinian leadership reaches an agreement with Israel for a two-state solution, what do you think should happen?” 64% responded that resistance should continue until all historic Palestine was liberated. Only 31.6% said that such an agreement should put an end to the conflict with Israel.
Presented with two additional options of what to do if the Palestinian leadership reaches agreement on a two-state solution with Israel, 62.5% chose the response that such an agreement must be “part of a multi-stage plan” to liberate all of historic Palestine. Only 27.2% said that such an agreement should be the ultimate Palestinian goal (the percentages are weighted for Gaza Strip and West Bank residents). These figures indicate strong polarization. The Washington Institute points out that even after the collapse of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, most Palestinians still supported the idea of a two-state solution.
And yet, in the short-term, at least, the Palestinian public does not support violence against Israel, despite the abduction of the three yeshiva students, which increased tensions in the West Bank and Gaza because of the intensive searches in Palestinian areas. Most respondents supported a non-violent approach. (The survey did not address the matter of the abduction directly, but the pollsters note that the abduction of the three was quite popular among Palestinians, on the basis of social media content and anecdotal evidence.)
On the question whether Hamas should observe a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, 56% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 70% of respondents from Gaza answered in the affirmative. Asked whether Hamas should accept the proposal by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen) that the Palestinian unity government in Ramallah should condemn the violence against Israel, 57% of Gaza Strip respondents answered in the affirmative. West Bank residents were divided 50%/50%.
However, “popular resistance against the occupation” (demonstrations, strikes, protests, refusal to cooperate with Israel, etc.), was a popular option: 62% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 73% in the Gaza Strip said that such an option would have a positive effect on the Palestinian struggle.
One of the important findings in the survey is that Hamas did not record political gain as a result of the abduction. In response to the question: “Who should be the president of Palestine for the next two years?” 28.1% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 32.4% of Palestinian in the Gaza Strip said that they would vote for Abbas, the current PA president. Only 6.9% of West Bank residents and 11.7% of Gaza residents said they would vote for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Another interesting figure: 45% of Palestinians would be willing to work for an Israeli company in the West Bank or Gaza if the salary were good.
1200 Palestinian adults were surveyed. The sampling error is 3%.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 29, 2014
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