Palestinians from the militant al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of the Fatah movement participate in a rally of support for the Palestinian President Abbas in the PA city of Halhoul, June27, 2021. (Wissam Hashlamoun/Flash90) (Wissam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Palestinian terrorists

While the United States and the European Union often present what they believe the Palestinians are thinking, the reality is far different.

By Maurice Hirsch, Adv, Palestinian Media Watch

A newly published poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) provides an interesting view of the thoughts and opinions of the Palestinians regarding different subjects.

Several provide an insight into how the Palestinians see both Palestinian-Israel relations and internal Palestinian issues.

While the United States and the European Union often present what they believe the Palestinians are thinking, the reality is far different.

Palestinian support for terror

According to the survey, the Palestinian support for terror against Israel is multi-faceted and includes, inter alia, substantial support – 71% of the population – for the cold-blooded murder of brothers Yagel and Hallel Yaniv, aged 19 and 21 respectively, by Hamas terrorist Abd Al-Fattah Kharousha, while they were driving on a main road through Hawara.

In addition to supporting the cold-blooded murder of Israelis, substantial parts of the Palestinians (68%) support the creation of armed terror groups to attack Israelis and 83% of Palestinians are against the surrender of existing terror groups.

87% of Palestinians believe that the PA Security Forces do not have the right to arrest members of these armed groups to prevent them from carrying out attacks against Israel. A majority of 63% say it supports the ending of security coordination with Israel.

When asked about the most effective means of “ending the Israeli occupation and building an independent state,” the report says that 77% of Palestinians chose violence. 54% chose armed struggle – i.e., to engage in all-out terror similar to the PA-launched 2000 – 2005 terror campaign. 23% chose “popular resistance” – i.e., the PA euphemism that includes sporadic terror attacks like shootings, stabbings, and car rammings. Only 18% of the Palestinians chose the path of “negotiations.”

These statistics are particularly significant since they reflect a rise in support for violence and a decline in support for negotiations, compared to a similar survey conducted a year ago, as exposed by Palestinian Media Watch. Then, support for violence stood at 68% while 25% of Palestinians supported negotiations.

What political solution do the Palestinians support?

According to the survey, only 27% of Palestinians support the so-called “Two-State solution”. Most Palestinians (74%) appear to have embraced the PA propaganda, and believe that the two-state solution is “no longer practical or feasible due to the expansion of Israeli settlements.” This, notwithstanding the fact that all the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip were evacuated in 2005, that there are no Israeli settlements in areas A or B of Judea and Samaria (which together make up 40% of the area), and that the Israeli settlements in area C cover no more than 2.5% of that area.

The same percentage of Palestinians (74%) also believe that the chances of creating a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel in the next five years are slim or nonexistent.

While the Palestinians are skeptical about the possibility of creating a Palestinian state, 75% of them are opposed to the suggestion of Mahmoud Abbas to demand one Israeli-Palestinian state.

Interestingly, in a question about the main problem confronting Palestinian society today, 26% say it is corruption; 21% say it is unemployment and poverty; while only 20% say it is the continuation of the Israeli “occupation and settlement construction.”

As regards the Arab residents of Jerusalem, whom the PA considers “Palestinians”, a separate recent PCPSR study, found that 38% of the respondents believe that East Jerusalem should be under Palestinian sovereignty, 19% would prefer Israeli sovereignty and 14% do not want anyone to have sovereignty over the city. The remainder want the city to be under international sovereignty (25%) or Islamic/Arab sovereignty (3%).

The findings are significant when compared to the same PCPSR survey conducted in 2010, in which 52% of the respondents supported Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem and only 6% supported Israeli sovereignty.

A similar trend was also identified in the preferences of the Jerusalem Arabs regarding citizenship as part of a permanent political solution. In the current study, 58% of the Jerusalem Arabs said that they would prefer Palestinian citizenship (down from 63% in 2010) while 37% said they would prefer Israeli citizenship (up from 24% in 2010).

Internal Palestinian Issues and the PA

The Palestinian Authority PA) was created in 1994 as part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. While the international community has provided tens of billions of aid to the PA (the EU recently wrote that since 2008 alone, the European Union, Norway and Switzerland have provided over 14 billion euros in official development assistance to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinians), 63% of Palestinians view the PA as “a burden on the Palestinian people.” Only 33% of Palestinians view the PA as an asset for the Palestinian people.

57% of Palestinians believe that the survival of the PA is in Israel’s interest, while 52% of Palestinians believe that the “collapse or dissolution of the PA” is in the Palestinian interest.

Most Palestinians (67%) believe that were Israel to adopt a concerted policy of weakening the PA, the major Arab countries would simply “abandon the PA.”

While the reasoning behind the Palestinian distain for the PA is undoubtedly complex, one of the most prominent reasons (if not the most prominent reason) would be that the Palestinian perception of corruption in PA institutions stands at 82%.

The distrust of the PA is reflected in the Palestinian response to recent PA legislation that has each cell phone holder paying a monthly 1 shekel tax to “support East Jerusalem.” According to the survey, despite the declared PA goal, 79% of Palestinians think that the collected funds will not benefit Arab citizens of East Jerusalem.

While PA corruption is clearly rife, 51% of the Palestinians living under PA control believe that they cannot criticize the PA without fear of repercussions.

Who will replace PA Mahmoud Abbas?

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is now in his 19th year of his first 4-year term as Chairman (or rather dictator) of the PA. While Abbas refuses to relinquish his dictatorial position, 77% of Palestinians are dissatisfied with his performance and want him to resign.

When asked their opinions about holding new elections for the position of PA chairman the results were reflective. If Abbas was to run against Ismail Hanniyeh, the head of the internationally designated terror organization Hamas, Hanniyeh would receive the support of 52% of the vote, while Abbas would only receive 36%.

If Abbas did not run, and the electoral race was between Hanniyeh of Hamas and convicted terrorist murderer Marwan Barghouti from Fatah (who is currently serving 5 consecutive life sentences in an Israeli prison for his part in the murder of 5 people), Barghouti would receive the support of 58% of the vote while Hanniyeh would receive only 37%.

According to the survey, in elections for the position of PA chairman, wannabe Palestinian leaders Muhammad Shtayyeh (currently the PA Prime Minister) would receive only 4% of the vote, and Hussein Al-Sheikh, who Abbas recently appointed as Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, would receive only 2%.

As regards the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) – the PA parliament – the findings of the survey provide a false sense of hope.

In the last PLC elections – held in 2006 – Hamas won the outright majority in both Gaza and the areas of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) under PA control. According to the new survey, if new elections were held for the PLC today, “with the participation of all factions that participated in the 2006 elections,” Fatah would win 35% of the vote while Hamas would win 33%.

The reason this result provides false hope is that it assumes that only one unified Fatah list would compete against Hamas as was the case in the 2006 elections. However, the problem with this scenario is that in the run up to the 2021 elections (which were eventually cancelled by Abbas), Fatah splintered into three separate lists.

Accordingly, assuming that the same situation will repeat itself before any future election, it is irrelevant to look to answers based on a question “with the participation of all factions that participated in the 2006 elections” to understand the outcome of any future elections and prophesy a Fatah win. The more relevant analysis would be to assume that Hamas would still win 33% of the vote, while the Fatah votes would be divided between the different Fatah “representatives.” In this scenario, it is not clear, and rather unlikely, that one Fatah representative would indeed win more seats than Hamas.

In January 2021 Abbas decided, ostensibly, to hold elections for the PA Parliament in May 2021 followed by elections for the position of PA chairman in July 2021. Abbas did not want the elections, but was forced to call them by the US and the EU who demanded that the Palestinian leadership renew its legitimacy. After he realized that he and his splintered Fatah party were going to lose, on April 29, 2021, just days after PMW reported that Abbas’ Fatah was doing all it could to lay the groundwork to cancel the elections, Abbas announced that he was indefinitely “postponing” the elections. The official PA excuse was the alleged refusal of Israel to allow the holding of the elections in Jerusalem.

PA excuses aside, the recent PCPSR survey that focused on the Arab residents in Jerusalem demonstrates the irrelevance of the PA ploy. According to the survey, if the PA were to hold elections for the position of PA chairman and for PA Parliament, 92% of the Jerusalem Arabs said they would not participate.

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