Poll shows Palestinians reject annexation, but divided on how best to oppose it

Poll shows Palestinians reject annexation, but divided on how best to oppose it

Eighty-eight percent oppose Trump Peace Plan, according to new survey, with a slight majority supporting a return to ‘armed struggle’ in response

Palestinians participate in a big rally to protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank, in Jericho on June 22, 2020. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
Palestinians participate in a big rally to protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank, in Jericho on June 22, 2020. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Eighty-eight percent of Palestinians reject US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, but the Palestinian public remains divided on how best to oppose it, according to a new survey of Palestinian political attitudes published Tuesday.

The survey, by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, was conducted among 1,200 adults in randomly sampled in-person interviews across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In January, Trump unveiled a controversial plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace that gives Israel a green light to annex West Bank settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, amounting to some 30 percent of the territory. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce his strategy to implement Trump’s plan as soon as July 1.

The poll found a slight rise in Palestinians support for a two-state solution. Support for the two-state solution rose to 45%, while half of Palestinians opposed the plan. Four months ago, support for a two-state solution stood at 39%, according to a similar poll conducted by PCPSR. Only 37% of those surveyed said they believed that the PA should abandon the push for a two-state solution in response to Israeli annexation of the West Bank.

When asked if they supported a return to armed struggle in response to the planned annexation, a slight majority of Palestinians (52%) said they supported it, with 42% in opposition.

Palestinians lift placards during a protest against Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, at Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on June 11, 2020. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

The poll did not find a Palestinian consensus on the best way to respond to annexation, however. Asked to choose a single strategy in response to the proposed annexation, 31% of Palestinians say that they prefer a return to armed struggle, 23% prefer resumption of negotiations based on a detailed Palestinian counter-proposal, 18% prefer non-violent resistance, 15% prefer abandoning the Oslo agreement and the severing of relations with Israel, and 6% prefer to abandon the two-state solution in favor of a one-state solution.

The Palestinian Authority’s strategy of cutting ties with Israel won support, with 63% saying they approved of the PA’s announcement that it had ended security coordination. At the same time, the public seems to be skeptical that the PA is serious about those efforts. Only 31% of Palestinians polled believe that the PA has actually ended its coordination with Israel.

The poll also found widespread approval of the Palestinian Authority’s public health response to the coronavirus pandemic. Seventy-six percent of those polled said they trusted that the government was acting in the interest of the people in ordering the measures it chose to contain the spread of the virus, and 82% expressed satisfaction with the Ministry of Health’s performance during the pandemic.

Some Palestinian leaders also received high ratings for their response to the crisis. Sixty-two percent of Palestinians said they approved of PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s performance during the pandemic, and 64% approved of Palestinian government spokesperson Ibrahim Milhim. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, however, received only 44% approval, a decline from his pre-pandemic approval rating of 47%.

One of the more divisive issues in the government response, according to Palestinians surveyed, was the PA’s decision to reject coronavirus aid sent by the United Arab Emirates.

Since late May, the UAE has sent two planeloads of medical supplies and ventilators intended for use by Palestinian health authorities to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. The PA has refused the aid both times, contending that the UAE had coordinated the aid with Israel, not with them.

“We refuse to receive it because it was coordinated directly between Israel and them [the UAE],” Palestinian civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh told AFP earlier this month.

According to the survey, 49% of Palestinians approved of the PA’s stance, while 41% disapproved.

At the same time, Palestinians surveyed were skeptical of domestic welfare schemes devised by the Palestinian leadership to soften the economic impact. More than three-quarters of the public believe that the PA has not done all it could to help Palestinians who are most impacted by the economic lockdown. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed believed that PA funding earmarked to support West Bank Palestinians throughout the crisis would not actually reach those who needed it.

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