Palestinians are worse off under the Oslo Accords
Thirty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, about two thirds describe conditions today as worse than they were before that agreement; two thirds think it has damaged Palestinian national interests, three quarters think Israel does not implement it; and a majority supports abandoning it despite the fact that about half believes that abandoning it would lead to the collapse of the PA and the return of the Israeli Civil Administration
This poll has been conducted in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Ramallah
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 6 and 9 September 2023. The period leading up to the poll witnessed a number of important developments, including the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords, the occupation of the Jenin refugee camp by the Israeli army and the killing of 12 Palestinian residents of the camp, and the visit of President Abbas to the camp after the withdrawal of the Israeli army. During this period, Palestinian faction leaders also met in City of El Alamein in Egypt in the presence of President Abbas but failed to agree on a joint statement. During this period, settler terrorist acts in Palestinian areas of the West Bank increased, as did armed attacks by Palestinians against settlers and Israelis. Finally, there have been press reports that there are US-Saudi negotiations to reach an agreement to normalize Saudi-Israeli relations and that Palestinian-Saudi and Palestinian-American meetings have been held to set Palestinian conditions for this normalization agreement. 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 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is +/-3%.
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, we asked the public a series of questions to gauge their position today on this agreement and its outcome. As we found five years ago, a majority (this time just under two-thirds) believes that the situation today is worse than it was before the implementation of the Oslo Accords. The vast majority still believes that it was wrong to sign that agreement. Today, a majority wants the PA to abandon the agreement and just over two-thirds believe that the agreement has harmed Palestinian interests. Above all, more than three quarters of the public believe that Israel does not implement this agreement all or most of the time.
In light of recent talk of a possible normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, the poll asked the public what it thinks of the impact of such normalization on the chances of achieving Palestinian-Israeli peace. A majority says it would be detrimental to the chances of peace. However, the results indicate significant differences between the attitudes of residents of the Gaza Strip, some of whom tend to see positive aspects of normalization, and those of West Bankers, who show firm rejection of it. However, the largest percentage in both regions believes that normalization with Israel is not acceptable before the Arab-Israeli conflict is resolved. Moreover, a large majority, more than 70%, opposes a Palestinian engagement with the Saudis or the Americans to discuss Palestinian conditions for accepting the Saudi normalization.
We also asked about internal Palestinian reconciliation. The poll found that the vast majority believes that the meeting of the leadership of factions in the Egyptian City of El Alamein, about two months ago, was a failure. Among those who view the meeting as a failure, the percentage that places the blame on the Fatah leadership is greater than those who blame Hamas. However, one-third of the public places the blame for the failure on other parties.
Despite the failure of the reconciliation meeting in El Alamein and the greater blame placed on the Fatah leadership, Hamas’s popularity has not changed compared to three months ago. In fact, Fatah’s popularity improved in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Perhaps the reason why Hamas’ standing has not improved is the recent marches in the Gaza Strip demanding better living conditions. This may also have contributed to improving Fatah’s image. As for President Abbas, although there are signs that his position might have improved slightly, in light of his decision to retire most governors, most of the indicators of improvement, such as the slight rise in his popularity if presidential elections were held between him and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, are due to the high percentage of boycott of presidential elections in which only these two candidates were competing.
Finally, we asked about Palestinian-Israeli relations. The findings show a rise, higher than the margin of error, in support for the two-state solution, reaching about a third. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority still believes that this solution is no longer feasible due to settlement expansion. At the same time, these results indicate an increase in support for unarmed popular resistance, and a similar increase in support for a return to confrontation and armed intifada. Moreover, nearly half of West Bankers believe that the formation of armed groups from the towns and villages subjected to violent attacks by settlers is the most effective solution in combating settler terrorism.