Most Palestinians want Israel's destruction, support suicide bombings

A majority of Palestinians surveyed in a recent public opinion poll said they believed the end result of the current Intifada should be the "liberation of all of historic Palestine," a reference to all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and not the end to Israel's "occupation" of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Over 68% of the Palestinians surveyed said they support the continuation of suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians.

A poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Center (JMCC), a Palestinian think tank headed by Dr. Ghassan Khatib, the newly appointed Minister of Labor in the Palestinian cabinet, surveyed 1,179 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between May 29 and June 2. The JMCC public opinion polls are supported by a fund from Fredrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation from Germany. The poll's margin of error is 3%.

The survey found that 51.1% of the Palestinians believed the Palestinian goal of the conflict was to "liberate all of historic Palestine," while 42.8% of those surveyed said the goal was to end Israel's occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In December, a JMCC survey showed that 43.9% of the Palestinians favored the liberation of all of historic Palestine as the end result to the Intifada.

78.9% of those surveyed in the recent poll said they favored the continuation of the Intifada in the West Bank and Gaza, while only 46.6% of the Palestinians answered a separate question by saying that they supported peace negotiations with Israel.

68.1% of the Palestinians surveyed said that they supported suicide bombing operations against Israeli civilians, while only 26% opposed such attacks. In December, 74% of the Palestinians said that they supported suicide bombings.

The opinion poll also found that 47.5% of those surveyed expected the Palestinian people to re-elect PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. Arafat was also the Palestinians' most trusted figure. 27.3% of those surveyed said they trusted the Fatah party the most, while 22.6% said they trusted Hamas the most, and 4.2% said they trusted Islamic Jihad the most. 27.2% of those surveyed said they didn't trust any political or religious faction.

Khader Abusway, research coordinator for JMCC, said Palestinian resentment for Israel had deepened after the IDF's Operation Defensive Shield offensive in March and April. He said that public opinion was volatile and had been radicalized over the past year. "But I don't think this will be permanent public opinion," he said.

Political analyst Shlomo Gazit said he did not see the poll results as a significant change in Palestinian attitudes, the Associated Press reported. "If there will be a political change and the beginning of some new negotiations in the peace process, it will have an immediate impact on public opinion," he said.

Ellis Shuman Israelinsider

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