A poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found growing discontent among residents of the “West Bank,” which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and the Gaza Strip which is ruled by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas.
COEXISTENCE OR CONFLICT? Israelis and Palestinians together in Jerusalem
israeltoday – digital edition July 2012
Some 73 percent answered “yes” when asked if the Palestinian Authority, led by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, is corrupt. The figure was the same for those surveyed in both the West Bank and Gaza. When the same question was asked with regard to the Hamas government in Gaza, 57 percent of West Bank residents and 68 percent of Gazans replied in the affirmative.
Asked if there is freedom of the press under their respective governments, only 23 percent of West Bankers and 16percent of Gazans replied in the affirmative; 63 percent of West Bank residents said they are afraid to openly criticize their government, compared to 79 percent in Gaza.
Nevertheless, because of law and order and relative stability, President Abbas enjoys a strong 60 percent approval rating among his constituents. If elections were held today, Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, would get 53 percent of the vote compared to 41 percent for Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Despite a three-year stalemate in peace talks, a strong Palestinian majority of 62 percent said they support the peace process; 58 percent support and 35 percent oppose a return to exploratory talks before Israel commits to a freeze on settlement construction and accepts the 1967 border lines as the basis for negotiations. Some 52 percent of respondents support non-violent resistance; and while 49 percent oppose a return to an armed intifada (uprising), a significant minority of 39 percent supports it. After last year’s failure, 76 percent support a return to the UN Security Council with the request for recognition of a Palestinian state.
Asked to rank the most important national goals, first place (45 percent) was given to the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital; second place (32 percent) went to the “right of return” of Palestinian “refugees” to their former homes in Israel; the introduction of Islamic Sharia Law took third place (14 percent); and fourth place (8 percent) went to the establishment of democracy.
After 45 years of Israeli rule over the territories, 68 percent of Palestinians believe that the chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel in the next five years are slim to non-existent; 31 percent see the prospects as medium to high.
On a key regional issue, 46 percent of Palestinians surveyed expect an Israeli attack on Iran in the near future, with 85 percent saying this would spark a major regional war.
The conclusions that we can draw from this survey are that while most Palestinians may recognize the importance of peace, a significant minority support the use of violence. Plus, their demands for peace are non-starters for Israel: Israel cannot accept a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, which means relinquishing the holiest places of Judaism in Jerusalem’s Old City and the evacuation of tens of thousands of Jews from their homes; and the right of return of Palestinian “refugees” would tip the demographic balance and amount to national suicide.
Internally, the situation for Palestinians is not more promising: They realize that their leadership is corrupt, that they do not enjoy freedom of speech or of the press, and that criticism of the government is not tolerated. Palestinians are torn between the need to come to terms with Israel, and their impossible demands backed by an inclination toward terrorism. Since they cannot depend on Israel to make dangerous concessions or their government to look out for the needs of the people, the Palestinians are caught between a rock and a hard place.
By Aviel Schneider