Palestinian youth skeptical of negotiations, supportive of violence poll finds

Julie Wiener

Young children selling bread snacks on Gaza beach in Gaza City, Gaza, June 13, 2015. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Young children selling bread snacks on Gaza beach in Gaza City, Gaza, June 13, 2015. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The overwhelming majority of young Palestinians believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be resolved through negotiations.

A poll of Palestinian youth, defined as  ages 16-30, published Monday by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, depicts a community that is socially conservative, supports violence against Israel, opposes the Islamic State and is skeptical about its leadership. It also shows significantly greater support for violence among Gazan Palestinians than among West Bank Palestinians.

While 47.4 percent of youths in the West Bank oppose stabbing attacks, 78.6 percent of Gaza youths supporte them, according to the poll. In addition, 66.6 percent of Palestinian youth in Gaza believe the current wave of violence serves the Palestinian cause, while only 40.9 percent in the West Bank do.

The poll is based on face-to-face interviews with a random sample of 1,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza between April 13 and 19. It has a 3 percent margin of error. The average age of the respondents was 22.

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Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they believe that negotiations will not succeed in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and 64.3 percent oppose the idea of working with like-minded Israelis to find a solution to the conflict.

Despite the apparent cynicism about negotiations, the majority, or 52.9 percent, supported a possible resumption of negotiations with Israel, but a sizable minority, at 43 percent, opposed doing so.

While the survey found high levels of support for the Palestinian National Authority, with 67.7 percent saying it should stay in place and 60.3 percent saying its performance was good or very good, it also reported high levels of mistrust for the various Palestinian political factions. Asked which faction they trust the most, 32.5 percent said don’t trust any faction, 33.8 percent said they trust Fatah – which controls the Palestinian Authority- more than others and 19.1 percent said they trust Hamas more than others.

Similarly, when asked which leaders they trust, the plurality, or 32.7 percent, said they did not trust anyone. With 16 percent saying they trust him most, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, however, garnered more trust than other named leaders.

One issue around which there was strong consensus was a shared distaste for the Islamic State, or ISIS, the Islamic extremist group that controls parts of Syria and Iraq and which has perpetrated terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere. Some 83.6 percent of those surveyed had negative opinions of the group.

On social issues, the majority of those polled, or 65.3 percent, said they do not shake hands with members of the opposite sex. Respondents were sharply divided on the issue of coeducation, with 49.8 percent opposed and 48.1 percent in favor.

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