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Palestinian Support for Knife Attacks on Decline, Poll Finds

[Bethlehem] – Popular Palestinian support for stabbing attacks against Israelis is beginning to ebb, though most Palestinians still back a return to an armed intifada, a respected research center found in a poll published Monday.

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) said support for the use of knives had dropped from 67 percent last December to 58 percent this month — including 44 percent in the occupied West Bank, where most Palestinian attackers have come from.

“There is a notable drop in the West Bank in the support for knifing attacks, due, it seems, to a rising perception in its inefficacy,” the research center said.

Since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October, Israeli forces have shot dead more than 200 Palestinians, most after they allegedly attempted to attack Israelis and most armed only with knives. The attacks killed nearly 30 Israelis in the same period.

While the small-scale attacks have largely received popular support among Palestinians, PSR found that few Palestinians continued to believe they were leading in a positive direction.

“Indeed, only a little over one-third believes that if the current confrontations continue as they are now they would help achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not; the majority does not believe that,” the center said.

However, PSR found that the majority of Palestinians, at 52 percent, continues to support a return to an armed intifada, or uprising, believing it more effective than the isolated attacks.

An even larger 65 percent — 59 percent in the West Bank and 75 percent in Gaza — believe that if the current violence were to develop into such an armed intifada, it would be more useful to national aspirations than negotiations.

The poll found that only 29 percent of Palestinians now view negotiations as the most effective means of achieving a two-state solution, while a majority of Palestinians continues to hold a bleak outlook on the institutions traditionally associated with these negotiations.

Mirroring past polls, nearly two-thirds of Palestinians — 63 percent — want to abandon the 1993 Oslo Accords, PSR said, while 64 percent back the resignation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The teachers’ strike that came to an end earlier this month also reflected poorly on the PA, with 75 percent of the public blaming the government for the crisis, and an overwhelming 84 percent viewing as “unacceptable” PA security forces’ actions during the strike.

Despite this, PSR found that a marginally larger number of Palestinians now support a two-state solution, at 51 percent, as opposed to 45 percent three months ago, even if a majority of Palestinians, at 61 percent, believe such a solution is no longer practical due to Israel’s settlements.

The poll was based on 1,270 face-to-face interviews with Palestinians in 127 randomly selected locations across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with what the center said was a margin of error of 3 percent.