An examination of support and opposition to the Oslo agreements
conceived in August 1993, as seen through the lens of polls taken by the
Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre, shows that over the last 20
years, increasing numbers of Palestinians polled have opposed the
agreements, despite their early popularity. Rather surprisingly, in
recent years, the agreements’ popularity has appeared to rebound.
Still, a plurality of Palestinians remained in opposition to the Oslo agreement in March 2013, their ranks solidified by 22% of respondents who said they were “strongly opposed” to the agreement, as opposed to about 7% in December 1997.
When Palestinians were asked in December 1997, “What’s your opinion of the Oslo agreement?
Would you say that you strongly support, support, oppose, or strongly oppose it?,” 68% of the public supported or strongly supported the agreements. This first JMCC poll asking this question was also to be the high point of support for the peace process as the question was asked repeatedly over the years.
The majority of the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza Strip viewed the agreements
positively until the start of the second Palestinian uprising in September 2000—five years after the agreements had expired. Between June and December 2000, attitudes shifted dramatically and a plurality of Palestinians began to oppose the agreement.
Since December 2002, while data is only available in 2006 and 2013, support for the Oslo agreements has risen again. Two events may explain this trend. First, the second intifada’s punishing policies of closure, incursions, arrests and detentions, and so on may have weighed heavily on Palestinians comparing this period with times of peace. The change may also be the result of domestic conflict between Fateh and Hamas. The Oslo agreements were viewed as signature achievements of Fateh that were under threat by Hamas when it first won general elections in 2006 and then took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.
For the most part, only when respondents were separated by their trust for Fateh, Hamas, other
factions, or no faction at all were significant differences noted in the above trends.
ng respondents who trust Hamas, the proportion of those who oppose the Oslo
agreements is consistently higher than the proportion of those who support it. It is re-
markable, however, that in May 1998, nearly 40% of respondents that trusted Hamas said
that they supported the Oslo agreements, and that the percentage of Oslo supporters who
trust Hamas never drops below 12% in the polling data available.
In March 2013, approximately one-fourth of respondents polled said that they trust no
Palestinian faction. This important constituency bucked the trend between 2002 and 2013
showing a rise in support for the Oslo agreements. This significant group—a natural constituency for any new political configuration—has increased its opposition to the Oslo agreement over the past six years, from approximately 46% to 52%.
Only a few other differences were noted when respondents’ answers were analyzed by region,
whether they live in a city, refugee camp or village, gender, age and family income. Refugee camp residents became opposed to the agreements before the general Palestinian population and do not share in today’s trend of rebounding support. Respondents with above average income were and remain more markedly opposed to the agreements, bucking the current trend of renewed support.