Two-thirds of Palestinians support knife attacks: poll

Jerusalem: Two-thirds of Palestinians support the ongoing wave of stabbings against Israelis, with the same percentage backing a larger armed uprising, a poll released on today found.

Sixty-seven percent back the use of knives, while 66 per cent of those asked said an armed intifada or uprising would “serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not”, the survey by the respected Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found.

At the same time, nearly three-quarters said they opposed the involvement of “young schoolgirls” in stabbings.

Since October 1, almost daily attacks by Palestinians and clashes with Israeli soldiers have killed 117 on the Palestinian side, 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean.

Many of the Palestinians killed have been alleged attackers, and a large number have been young people, including teenagers. Others have been shot dead by Israeli security forces during clashes.

Speaking today, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said that young Palestinian demonstrators were “driven by despair (at the fact) that a two-state solution is not coming”.

The PSR survey, which interviewed 1,270 people in 127 randomly selected locations, showed just 45 per cent of Palestinians support the two-state solution and only 34 percent think it is feasible because of the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

According to the survey, 65 per cent of Palestinians also want Abbas to resign, and if presidential elections took place he would lose to Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.

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 (pursuing) diplomatic confrontation with Israel, which is why he is losing support,” Khalil Shikaki, head of the PSR, told AFP.

He added that 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 behaviour of Israeli forces, the loss of legitimacy of leaders and a process of demoralisation within Palestinian security forces could lead to more attacks,” Shikaki warned.