A majority of respondents rejects Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and lacks confidence that Central Council recommendations will be implemented
There is a regression in trust in leaders and factions as well as an increase in support for the one-state solution
A majority also sees a retreat in freedom of expression
A public opinion poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre (JMCC) in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) showed more extreme and strong changes in the positions of the Palestinian public compared to previously conducted polls, especially in regards to the two-state solution, peace negotiations and the level of trust in political leaders and factions.
The majority rejects US President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Furthermore, the majority is dissatisfied with the political responses by Palestinians and the Arabs world to it. The poll also showed a lack of confidence that the recent PLO Central Council recommendations will actually be implemented.
The Trump decision and political solutions
The poll shows that the majority of respondents, 96.1%, reject the establishment of a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital under any circumstances, while 3% accept the establishment of a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital under any circumstances.
It also showed a major and more extreme change in the people’s political positions whereby support for the two-state solution dropped to 35.8% in this poll, while it had been 49.6% in a poll conducted in February, 2017. In contrast, the percentage of those who support a bi-national state increased to 23.9% whereas it was 18.1% last February.
Similarly, the percentage of those who support negotiations as the best method to achieve the goals of the Palestinian people decreased to 25.2% in this poll after it was 37.6% in February, 2017. While support for non-violent, popular resistance rose to 30.8% in this poll after it was 25.4% in February, 2017, the percentage of supporters of armed resistance also rose to 35.7% after it was 30.3% before.
PLO Central Council recommendations
PLO Central Council entrusted the PLO Executive Committee with the suspension of recognition of Israel and the halt of security cooperation.
In spite of support from the majority of respondents, 55.3%, for the PLO’s Central Council recommendation to the PLO Executive committee to suspend recognition of Israel and halt security cooperation with it, 55.7% of those polled expected it was unlikely that these decisions would be implemented. Furthermore, 54% expect that the Palestinian leadership would backtrack on its decision not to accept American mediation and its role as peace process broker. In contrast, 36.8% expected the PLO to continue to adhere to this decision.
An alternative to Washington
Regarding the question of whom people would prefer as a mediator to broker negotiations if they are resumed, the largest percentage, 25.4%, said the EU could assume this role, followed by Egypt, 22.4%, the UN, 12.9%, and the Quartet on the Middle East, 10.7%.
Another 1.8% said they supported the United States as broker for peace negotiations compared to 7.6% in February, 2017. On a related topic, the poll showed that the majority, 69.8%, believes that there has been a regression in the dealings of the United States with the problems in the Middle East compared to 41.9% who said the same in August 2017.
Trust in personalities
The percentage of those who think Rami Hamdallah is doing a good job as Prime Minister dropped considerably to 21.4% after it was 26.9% last February. Furthermore, there was an increase in the percentage of those who see a regression in the Hamdallah government’s transparency in handling the financial issues from 38.6% in August, 2015, to 48.6% in this poll.
Likewise, the percentage of those who said they are satisfied with the way President Mahmoud Abbas does his job as PNA President decreased to 39.1% in this poll after it was 44.6% in July, 2016. The poll results also showed an increase in the percentage of respondents who think there is corruption in the PNA, from 75% in February, 2017, to 79.6% in this poll.
Trust in factions
Regarding the trust of the public in political factions and personalities, there was a noticeably sharp rise in the percentage of those who do not trust factions and personalities. The percentage of those who do not trust any political personality rose to 52.5% in this poll after it was 40.5% in a poll conducted August of last year. Moreover, the percentage of those who do not trust any political or religious faction rose to 53.6% after it was 42.8% in August, 2017. In contrast, the percentage of trust in Fatah dropped from 25% to 22.3% and in Hamas from 14.5% to 9.5% in the same period.
Freedom of expression
The poll also pointed to a regression in freedom of expression in Palestinian society. The percentage of those who said freedom of expression was not permissible rose to 30.7% from 23.4% in July, 2016. Meanwhile, the percentage of those who said freedom of expression was permissible to a great extent decreased to 17.5% in this poll after it was 21.2% in July, 2016.
The division and electricity crisis
Considering the persisting division and the failure of efforts pertinent between Hamas and Fatah, 11.1 % blamed Hamas, 9.4 % blamed Fatah and 34.8% said that both Fatah and Hamas were to blame; additionally 26.7% blamed Israel and 5.5 % blamed the US.
The largest percentage of those being polled, particularly 47%, said Israel was responsible for the electricity crisis in Gaza, followed by 22.9% who held the PNA responsible and 22.3% who said the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip was responsible compared to 38.3% said Israel was responsible, 20.4% held the PNA responsible and 30.4% said the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip was responsible in August 2017.
Who are you?
The poll showed that the public felt more affiliation with their Palestinian identity at the expense of a religious identity. In response to the question of how they would define themselves in one word, the majority of respondents, 60.6%, answered “Palestinian”, after being at 52.5% last February, followed by 11.8% who answered “Muslim” after it was 21.7% last February.