Harriet Sherwood
The Guardian (Blog)
May 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Two polls earlier this month gave strikingly similar results on one question: do you think a third intifada (Palestinian uprising) is looming?

An Israeli poll for The Peace Index found that 70% of Jews in Israel expect a popular uprising following the expected declaration of a Palestinian state in September and its possible recognition by the UN. (62% of Israeli-Arabs also think an intifada is likely.)

A poll for the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that 70.5% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe an intifada will break out if the deadlock in negotiations continues.

It looks very much as though all these scenarios will come to pass: the deadlock will indeed continue, the Palestinians will declare their state and a majority of countries at the UN General Assembly will back it.

There is increasing talk of what happens after that, and whether – if nothing much changes on the ground – Palestinians will follow their Arab brothers and sisters and try to force change by their own actions.

Even before September, there may be a rise in activity. Following the Nakba Day protests by Palestinian refugees on the border with Lebanon and the fence between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syria, a similar demonstration has been called for this Sunday, June 5, to mark the anniversary of the Six Day War.

There is also another international flotilla of aid ships setting sail towards Gaza later in June.

The Israeli military are preparing for these events by reviewing their response to non-violent actions and how they can contain demonstrations without courting international criticism for heavy-handed suppression. Fourteen people were shot dead on Nakba Day; nine were killed on board the Mavi Mamara exactly a year ago.

Back to the polls. Aside from the intifada question, the headlines from the Palestinian poll are: almost 80% back the reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas; 44.7% believe the Israelis are not interested in making peace, 45.5% say they are to a degree and another 8.4% say they are without qualification; 69.6% either strongly or somewhat oppose the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, and 29.8% either strongly or somewhat support such actions.

Among the Israeli Jews polled, 75% believe a majority of countries at the UN General Assembly will recognise a Palestinian state, and around the same number believe that will be followed by increased pressure on Israel by the international community, including economic sanctions, to end the occupation.

On negotiations, 38% say they should resume even if Hamas is part of a new Palestinian government; 35% say Israel should not talk if Hamas is included; and 24% oppose negotiations regardless of who is in the Palestinian government.

Both these polls were taken before President Obama made his speech saying that a future Palestinian state should be based on the pre-1967 borders and discouraging the Palestinians from taking their demand for recognition to the UN.

Since that speech, and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's robust rejection of the 1967 line, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a poll showing that 47% of the Israeli public viewed Netanyahu's trip to Washington as a success, and only 10% thought it a failure.

More than a quarter – 27% - said they believed relations between Israel and the US would improve as a result of the trip; 13% thought they would deteriorate.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017