| The Rose Report |

When Palestinians Speak Their Minds

"Most Palestinians continue to distrust the US and view it as anti-Palestinian and biased in favor of Israel"

Speaking of free and fair elections, the Israeli media often quips that Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen) is now serving the 16th year of his four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas won an election in 2005 and the PA hasn’t held a presidential election since, even canceling one scheduled for earlier this year.

The Israeli quip is no joke to some 74 percent of PA residents who told the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), an independent pollster and think tank based in Ramallah, that Abbas should resign. His job approval rating is a mere 27 percent.

The survey released two weeks ago also shows that 71 percent of West Bankers and 62 percent of Gaza Strip residents say they are not free to criticize the PA and Hamas without fear of retaliation.

They seemingly had no fear in this survey, which prompted me to contact the PSR director in Ramallah, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, to ask how he earns the trust of his respondents, considering the risks.

“Our surveys are conducted face to face and the respondents are assured of total anonymity and confidentiality,” Dr. Shikaki explained. “The mission of our interviewers is to convince respondents that expressing their views openly [to us] is like whispering in our ears.”

The survey contained many other insights into Palestinian political thinking. One more that caught my eye was the 64 percent who oppose returning to peace talks with Israel under the Biden administration.

I would have thought that more Palestinians would favor resuming talks facilitated by an administration far more supportive of the Palestinian cause than the previous administration.

Not so, says Dr. Shikaki: “Most Palestinians continue to distrust the US and view it as anti-Palestinian and biased in favor of Israel. The Trump years have confirmed these Palestinian suspicions and the Biden administration has not yet been able to change that perception.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 885)

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