Israeli settlers’ pogrom in Huwara, occupied West Bank

Palestine: Another bleak year ahead

In light of the recent events in Huwara and the northern West Bank, Palestinian public attitudes become more militant as support for armed struggle rises, support for the two-state solution drops, and the vast majority opposes the Aqaba meeting; parallel to that, trust in the PA declines, demand for the resignation of president Abbas rises, and for the first time since the creation of the PA, a majority says that its dissolution or collapse serves the interest of the Palestinian people.

The Palestine Project
5 min readMar 20

Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR)
Public Opinion Poll No (87) March 2023

These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 8 and 11 March 2023. The period before the conduct of the poll witnessed several developments including the continuation of the teachers’ strike in public schools, the imposition by the PA of one Shekel added to each telecommunication bill as a donation to an East Jerusalem fund, the holding of student elections at Hebron University in which a Fatah affiliated bloc won against a Hamas affiliated one. In Palestinian-Israeli relations, armed confrontations continued to escalate in the West Bank, the PA announced a suspension of security coordination with Israel, and Israel took punitive measures against the PA including the confiscation and withholding of funds. Settlers attacked the town of Huwara and burned dozens of homes with residents inside as well as shops and cars and killed one civilian in a revenge attack following the killing of two settlers in the town earlier that day. A Palestinian-Israeli meeting took place in Aqaba, in the presence of Egyptian, Jordanian, and American delegations, to discuss means of de-escalation and the ending of unilateral measures. In Israel, tens of thousands demonstrated against the Netanyahu government’s plan to change the judicial system. Regionally, an earthquake hit Turkey and Syria bringing vast destruction and the death of tens of thousands.

This press release addresses these issues and covers other matters such as the general conditions in the Palestinian territories, the peace process and future possible directions for Palestinians in the absence of a viable peace process. Total size of the sample is 1200 adults interviewed face to face in 120 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is +/-3%.

Main Findings:

The findings of the first quarter of 2023 indicate that the internal factional balance of power remains unchanged, with parity between Fatah and Hamas, if new parliamentary elections were to take place today, and a majority vote for Hamas’ candidate, Ismail Haniyyeh, over Mahmud Abbas in presidential elections. Satisfaction with president Abbas drops four percentage points and the demand for resignation increases by two points.

Public evaluation of internal conditions points to a greater deterioration in the standing of the PA and a significant loss of trust in it. Findings show a rise in the belief that the PA is now a burden on the Palestinian people and for the first time in our polls, a majority supports the dissolution of the PA and views its collapse as an interest for the Palestinian people. In fact, a majority thinks that the continued existence of the PA serves the interests of Israel and that its dissolution or collapse would strengthen Palestinian armed groups.

The declining status of the PA can also be seen in the vast public support, standing at 70% in the West Bank, for the strike of the West Bank teachers in public schools and the belief of about 80% or more of the public that the current PA government will fail in conducting elections, reunifying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, or improving economic conditions. Loss of trust in the PA can be seen in the overwhelming opposition to the PA’s imposition of a one-Shekel tax on the telecommunication bill to support East Jerusalem. On top of that opposition, about 80% say the money will not really go to East Jerusalemites.

Findings of the current quarter point a significant decline in the support for the two-state solution accompanied by an increase in the percentage of those who think this solution is no longer practical or feasible due to settlement expansion. Furthermore, the public expresses widespread pessimism about the ability of international organizations and the international community, including the US, the EU, and the Arab states, to impose sanctions on the current Israeli government to pressure it to change its settlement policy or its violations of international law.

In light of all that, findings show a rise in the percentage of those who support a return to armed confrontation and intifada. In fact, 70% of West Bankers expect the eruption of a third armed intifada. Moreover, more than 70% declare support for the latest Huwara shooting attack against settlers; two thirds support the formation of armed groups, such as the Jenin Battalion or the Lions’ Den; and almost all express the view that the PA security services should not arrest or disarm members of these groups. More than 60% of the West Bankers believe that members of these armed groups will resist with arms any attempt by the PA security services to disarm or arrest them. Public support for armed resistance is further confirmed by overwhelming opposition to the Palestinian participation in the Aqaba meeting. Almost all Palestinians think Israel will not honor its commitments in that meeting. A large majority, standing at 70%, think Israeli counter measures, which are meant to punish those who commit armed attacks or their families, such as home demolition, expulsion, or the imposition of the death penalty, will only lead to an increase in the intensity of such attacks.

On the background of the settlers’ attack on Huwara and given the current right wing government in Israel, two thirds of the public expect an increase in these attacks. In light of the call by the Israeli finance minister to wipe out Huwara, a large minority, approaching almost half of the public, expect Israel to commit massacres and force a large-scale mass expulsion. Three quarters of the public view the Huwara settlers’ attack as an expression of the behavior of the Israeli government and army rather than the behavior of the most extreme settlers.