Friday, January 14, 2005

Eroding support for terrorism in Palestine?

Central to the Palestinian problem is the reality that a high percentage of Palestinians seek the destruction of the Jews--and support terrorism in order to achieve that goal.

Now comes a new poll that shows some signs of change in Palestinian opinion--from the Palestinian pollster/academic Prof. Khalil Shikaki:

Shikaki reported on the turnaround in Palestinian public opinion. There was a decline in support for the Islamic organizations, especially in the Gaza Strip, and an increase in the popularity of Fatah (Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza: from 38 percent in September 2004 to 24 percent in December; during that same period, Fatah surged ahead in all the territories from 29 percent to 40 percent).

For the first time in four years, his surveys have found a readiness for conciliation with Israel, optimism and a more positive approach to issues connected to the peace process. "We are now seeing things that seemed unthinkable six months ago," says the Shikaki, "in terms of how the public perceives issues of negotiations with Israel, the Israeli leadership and the willingness of the Israeli leadership to accept or to be a partner to the Palestinians."

Shikaki attributes this dramatic change, which he calls a "new reality," primarily to Arafat's death and to a lesser extent, Abu Mazen's resurrection. [boldface added]

One of his more interesting findings is this:
Most of the sample said that the intifada has harmed the Palestinians, yet
nevertheless two-thirds of the participants in the survey marked "Yes" next to
the question "Has the intifada been effective?"


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