Poll: Most Palestinians Oppose Abbas and Oslo, Support Stabbings

President Abbas says lack of hope that characterizes the young Palestinian generation fuels violence.

Jack Khoury
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 28, 2015.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 28, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Jack Khoury

Some two-thirds of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip support the use of knives in the current confrontations with Israelis, back the resignation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and advocate abandoning the Oslo accords with Israel, according to the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

The pollsters noted several trends compared to the previous survey in September. They observed that "a growing majority supports return to an armed intifada; and a growing majority continues to reject the two-state solution." While 68 percent of the 1,270 adults surveyed said they supported abandoning the Oslo accords, 67 percent of those supporters believe Abbas is not serious about doing so. Researchers referred to the "Oslo generation" of youths between the ages of 18 and 22, who they say are the most supportive of an armed intifada and the least supportive of a two-state solution.

If presidential elections were held today between Isamil Haniyeh of Hamas and Abbas, Haniyeh would win 51-41 percent. That showing is an improvement for Haniyeh, who led Abbas 49-44 in the previous poll. The only Fatah figure who could beat Haniyeh is Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for his role in the murder of Israelis during the second intifada.

Abbas: Uprising stems from despair

Abbas on Monday said returning to negotiations with Israel is based on clear principles of Israel releasing the fourth round of long-incarcerated prisoners, freezing settlements, reining in aggressive settlers and setting a date for establishing a Palestinian state, in addition to respecting all signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians since 1993.

Speaking at the opening of a conference in Ramallah on fighting corruption, Abbas said that the popular uprising stems from a feeling of despair that characterizes the young generation of Palestinians, which according to him as despaired of the two-state solution and has to deal with checkpoints and settlements alongside aggressive settlers as encapsulated by the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir and the fatal arson of the Dawabsheh family home, as well as attacks on the al-Aqsa mosque and other Muslim holy places.

Regarding the current wave of violence, 67 percent support the use of knives, yet 73 percent oppose the participation of school girls in the stabbing attacks. Ironically, 47 percent believe that the Palestinians shot by Israelis recently had not stabbed or were not attempting to stab Israelis, even though they support such behavior.

The public is divided about where the violence is heading, with 37 percent believing they will develop into a new armed intifada but 18 percent believing they will lead to wide scale peaceful popular confrontations. Another 19 percent believe the current level will remain steady, while another 10 percent expect the attacks to dissipate.

About half of Palestinians believe a new armed intifada would serve Palestinian national interests better than negotiations, and an equal amount feel the same about the current round of violence, even if it remains at the same level.

The poll was conducted December 10-12 in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah with a margin of error of 3 percent. Dr. Khalil Shikaki is the director of the center conducting the survey.

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