The majority of Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and the Gaza Strip, support terrorist attacks against Israelis, a recent poll shows.
“Palestinian public attitudes are becoming more militant: support for armed struggle rises, support for the two-state solution drops, … trust in the P.A. declines, demand for the resignation of president [Mahmoud] Abbas rises,” Khalil Shikaki, director of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), tweeted last week.
Boaz Ganor, executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Herzliya, told JNS that “these poll results are to be expected they are the end goal of a long-term campaign by Hamas and other terror groups to inflame the Palestinians. It seems they have succeeded.”
According to the survey, which surveyed 1,200 Arab adults in 120 randomly selected locations in Judea, Samaria and Gaza between March 8 and 11, other factors contributing to the result of the poll include mass teacher strikes in schools run by the Palestinian Authority and the imposition of a P.A. tax on telecommunication, ostensibly to support eastern Jerusalem. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3%.
According to PCPSR, acceptance of terrorist attacks against Israelis is widespread throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Fifty-eight percent of the respondents support “a return to armed confrontations and intifada,” up three percentage points from three months earlier. Furthermore, 61% said they expect a third intifada to erupt in the near future.
When asked about the recent terrorist shooting in Huwara, outside Nablus, which claimed the lives of two Israeli brothers, 71% of respondents said they support this and similar attacks.
According to experts, this trend is expected to continue getting worse.
“The efforts to radicalize the Palestinians have a concrete due date of Ramadan,” said Ganor. “They [Hamas] have continuously been attempting to make the situation more volatile in a way that they hope will erupt during the holy month.”
The poll also found that Palestinians are increasingly turning to new terrorist groups as legitimate challengers to the Palestinian Authority.
Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed support “forming armed groups such as the Lions’ Den, which do not take orders from the P.A. and are not part of the P.A. security services.” Furthermore, 83% oppose these groups surrendering their members or arms to the P.A., and “the vast majority (87%) says the PA does not have the right to arrest members of these armed groups in order to prevent them from carrying out attacks against Israel.”
According to the US State Department, the P.A. has broadly “lost control in Jenin and Nablus.” Both cities are strongholds of new terrorist groups such as the Lions’ Den and the Jenin Brigades.
Fifty-six of those polled “do not expect the P.A. to deploy its security forces in the Jenin refugee camp or the old city (the casbah) of Nablus and other areas in which armed groups have recently been formed in order to enforce the law.”
The survey also found that 59% of Palestinians believe that if the P.A. did attempt to disarm the newly formed groups, they would militarily resist the P.A. security forces.
Ineffective, totalitarian, weak and corrupt
According to PCPSR, increased support for terrorist groups is correlated with decreasing support for the Palestinian Authority. The vast majority of Palestinians view the P.A. as ineffective, totalitarian, weak and corrupt. “Public evaluation of internal conditions points to a greater deterioration in the standing of the P.A. and a significant loss of trust in it,” the center said in a press release.
Ganor agrees regarding the relationship between support for terrorism and declining support for the P.A. in Judea and Samaria.
“The volatile atmosphere and the radicalization of the Palestinians are being created by the terror networks not just to weaken Israel but also to weaken the P.A. generally and Abu Mazen [Abbas] specifically,” he explained. “In their view, an event like a third intifada would have the additional benefit of diluting the last shreds of power that the P.A. is still clinging to.”
According to the poll, for the first time ever “a majority of 52% says the Palestinian people’s interest lies in the collapse or dissolution of the P.A.”
Eighty-two percent of correspondents said the P.A. is corrupt. Asked to identify the main problem confronting Palestinian society today, the largest percentage (26%) said that “corruption is the main problem confronting Palestinian society.”
Eight-one percent said that the P.A. government has failed at improving economic conditions for Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Furthermore, 54% feel that they cannot openly criticize the P.A. without fear of reprisal.
A majority of 63% view the Palestinian Authority as a burden, an increase of four points from three months ago. Lastly, 67% expect the major Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt to abandon the P.A. if it begins to break down.
The collapsing support for the Palestinian Authority was also seen in the poll’s findings regarding perspectives on Abbas. He assumed the presidency in 2005, and excluding parliamentary elections in 2006 whose results were not recognized by the P.A. because Hamas won them, he has not faced a “national” vote in more than 18 years.
According to PCPSR, 68% of Palestinians support holding elections in the near future. The majority, however, believe they will not be held.
Abbas’s approval rating stands at 17%, with more than 77% of respondents dissatisfied with his leadership. Moreover, 76% of Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and 78% of those in the Gaza Strip, want him to resign from his post.
If an election were held today between Abbas and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, Haniyeh would win by a 16-point margin, according to the poll.