Two-thirds of Palestinians support the current wave of stabbings against Israelis, with the same percentage backing a larger armed uprising, according to a Palestinian poll released Monday.
Sixty-seven percent back the use of knives, while 66% of those asked said an armed intifada or uprising would “serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not,” according the survey by the respected Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).
At the same time, nearly three-quarters said they opposed the involvement of “young schoolgirls” in stabbings.
Asked whether they backed continued attacks on soldiers, 79% said yes and 10% no.
More than 20 Israelis have been killed in three months of near-daily stabbing, shooting, and car-ramming terror attacks by Palestinians targeting civilians and security forces. More than 100 Palestinians have also been killed, a large proportion of them assailants shot as they carried out attacks, including some who were teenagers. Other Palestinians have been killed during violent clashes with Israeli security forces.
The survey found that 51% of the Palestinian public (67% in the Gaza Strip and 40% in the West Bank) believe that most of the Palestinian fatalities during attacks were in fact trying to stab, or had stabbed, Israelis. But 47% believe that most of those killed during reported attacks were not attempting to carry out stabbings.
Speaking on Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that young Palestinian demonstrators were “driven by despair over the lack of a two-state solution.”
But the PSR survey, which interviewed 1,270 people in 127 randomly selected locations, showed just 45% of Palestinians support the two-state solution and only 34% think it is feasible due to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
According to the survey, 65% of Palestinians also want Abbas to resign, and the poll indicates that he would lose to Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas in a presidential election.
Abbas’s mandate expired in 2009, but no vote is scheduled because of divisions between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas.
“The Palestinian public thinks Abbas does not support the current confrontation and is not serious in [pursuing] a diplomatic confrontation with Israel, which is why he is losing support,” PSR chief Khalil Shikaki told AFP.
He said the poll suggests violence will continue during 2016, with the possible involvement of more heavily armed militants.
“The armed militants in refugee camps, including Fatah [Abbas’s party] have not moved so far, but a change in behavior of Israeli forces, the loss of legitimacy of leaders and a process of demoralization within Palestinian security forces could lead to more attacks,” Shikaki warned.
Over one-third of Palestinians who took part in the survey, some 37%, believe that the recent violence will develop into an armed intifada, while 18% believe that the violence will give way to wide-scale “peaceful popular confrontations.”
Of the rest, 13% believe the situation will develop into both an increase in violence and peaceful protests, 19% said the confrontation will remain as it is, and 10% were of the opinion that the attacks will eventually just fade away.
On Monday, a Palestinian terrorist drove his car into a group of people waiting at a Jerusalem bus stop, injuring 14. Three people suffered moderate injuries, including a 15-month-old baby boy and a woman in her 70s. The rest of the victims suffered light injuries.The infant’s mother was among those injured. The driver of the vehicle was shot and killed as he tried to emerge from the car, apparently to continue the attack by hacking at people with the axe that was found in the vehicle.
Should the violence increase into an armed intifada, 66% agree it “would serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not,” while 50% believe that peaceful popular confrontations would likewise achieve results that negotiations could not bring.
Just over half, 51%, believe that if the violence remains at its current level it would still have more of an advantage for the Palestinian national interests than talking with the Israelis.
The results continued trends revealed in an earlier September survey by the PSR, which describes itself as “an independent nonprofit institution and think tank of policy analysis and academic research.”