Poll: Palestinian Support Waning for Knife Attacks on Israelis

Also in survey, 65 percent of Palestinians want President Mahmoud Abbas to quit, with only 34 percent satisfied with him.

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The knife used in the stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday, March 11, 2016.
The knife used in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday, March 11, 2016.Credit: Police Spokesman's Unit
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Support among Palestinians for knife attacks against Israelis is waning, with about half of respondents in a new poll feeling that the “popular uprising” has reached its end.

The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and published on Tuesday. Support for knife attacks has dropped 7 percent – from 58 percent three months ago to 51 percent now – the poll found.

A breakdown by area shows that support for the stabbings waned most in the West Bank – down to 36 percent, from 44 percent three months earlier. In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, support for knife attacks against Israelis was 75 percent, down from 82 percent in the previous poll.

The poll was conducted between June 2 and 4, and its authors personally interviewed 1,270 adults chosen at random in 127 towns around the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Though support for knife attacks has subsided somewhat, support for the suicide attack on a bus in Jerusalem in April – which wounded dozens of people – remains high: 65 percent for; 35 percent against.

PCPSR director Dr. Khalil Shikaki told journalists in Ramallah that there usually is a gap between the proportion of people recoiling at violence and support for a specific action carried out by a known party from a known family, and whom the local press presents as a martyr: It is emotionally harder to oppose the single action and criticize a person who sacrificed his life for a cause.

Also, 54 percent of respondents said that in the absence of peace talks, they support resuming armed struggle, while 56 percent said they support nonviolent popular struggle.

However, the poll found that expectations of such struggles are also ebbing: 58 percent of respondents (68 percent in Gaza; 52 percent in the West Bank) believe that if the present clashes escalate into an armed uprising, it would serve the Palestinian interest in ways that the negotiations cannot. Three months ago, that figure was 65 percent (75 percent in Gaza; 59 percent in the West Bank).

An even smaller proportion, 41 percent, believe that nonviolent popular struggle would serve the national interest better than negotiations (52 percent in Gaza Strip; 35 percent in the West Bank).

Asked about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a majority of Palestinians wanted him to quit. Some 65 percent said they wished that he would resign, while only 34 percent expressed satisfaction with him.

Further, over two-thirds (67 percent) said they don’t believe he will keep his promise to stop fulfilling the Palestinian obligations under the Oslo agreement (as a response to Israel failing to fulfill its undertakings); 68 percent, meanwhile, said the Palestinian leadership isn’t serious when it threatens to suspend security cooperation with Israel.

Some 35 percent think Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are responsible for the failure of the Palestinian “reconciliation” government, with just 19 percent blaming Hamas (11 percent in the West Bank; 32 percent in the Gaza Strip).

Just over half, 52 percent, see the Palestinian Authority as a burden, and 76 percent said they oppose Abbas’ decision to deny funding to both the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine; only 16 percent supported that move.

If Abbas were to run in a presidential race today, he’d lose to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (43 percent to 48 percent).

Shikaki says support for both men has ebbed from the last poll three months ago, possibly due to the Paris peace summit – which 50 percent of respondents said they support and 41 percent oppose.