LONDON: More than half of Palestinians surveyed still support a two-state solution as the answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while a majority no longer feel that they are represented by neither Fatah nor Hamas, and three-quarters believe the current Palestinian leadership is incapable of reaching a peace deal with Israel.
These are the key findings of a new Arab News/YouGov survey to mark the 75th anniversary of the Nakba.
The online survey, carried out among 953 Palestinians between April 28 and May 11, found that half still believe in the two-state solution, which was agreed between Palestinian and Israeli leaders in Oslo in 1993 but failed to materialize in the face of opposition and violence from extremists on both sides.
Backed by 51 percent overall, the two-state solution is more popular among older Palestinians — it is supported by 63 percent over the age of 45, compared with only 42 percent aged 18 to 29.
It is also seen as the best of a range of options, although one in five favor the creation of a joint Israeli-Palestinian federal state.
Another alternative — Palestinians becoming citizens of a single, Israeli state, is supported by 13 percent, rising to 15 percent among those aged 25 to 34.
Meanwhile 11 percent of respondents opted for living under full Israeli occupation without obtaining citizenship.
The survey reveals the extent of the loss of faith in the Palestinian leadership, with 63 percent of Palestinians saying that they feel unrepresented by either Hamas or Fatah.
At the same time, only one in four still believes in the ability of the Palestinian leadership to successfully negotiate a peace settlement with Israel.
“Palestinians lost trust in their leadership years ago,” US-Palestinian journalist, author and media consultant Ramzy Baroud told Arab News.
“This lack of trust is intrinsically linked to the endemic corruption of the Palestinian Authority, but also to the total failure of the current Palestinian leadership to achieve a single meaningful political victory that could potentially renew the Palestinian people’s faith in the so-called peace process.”
There is similar skepticism about the willingness of the current right-wing Israeli government to resolve the conflict peacefully — 86 percent of Palestinians believe Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration is not serious about securing a peace deal.
Following China’s recent successful mediation in talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the country is seen as a potential go-between in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by 80 percent of respondents.
Furthermore, continued Israeli intimidation and illegal settlements are seen as the main causes for the failure of previous peace talks, followed by the US bias toward Israel and the continuing dispute over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the status of Jerusalem.
Palestinians appear polarized over their attitudes toward the Abraham Accords, with 52 percent of the opinion that the US-driven initiative had made Israel more aggressive toward Palestinians, but 43 percent believing the opposite is true.
One thing the majority of Palestinians do agree on is what the priority of any future independent Palestinian state should be — the economy. More than 40 percent put economic development at the top of their to-do list.
Writing in a column to comment on the study findings, Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas said “It is important to obtain credible data and insight relating to the views and sentiment of average Palestinians, since we rarely hear from them despite that its their cause that is often being debated worldwide.”
“We hope this Arab News/YouGov study sheds important light on what is in the hearts and minds of Palestinian people and aids decision makers in finding a solution for their plight.”