Poll: Palestinians Reject Trump Plan, Back Terrorism

RAMALLAH (AP) -
trump peace plan
Palestinians protesting the U.S. peace plan, near Beit El on Tuesday. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

Ninety-four percent of Palestinians reject President Donald Trump’s Mideast initiative, according to a poll released Tuesday, which also found plummeting support for a two-state solution with Israel and nearly two-thirds backing what was called “armed struggle.”

The first survey of Palestinian public opinion to be released since Trump’s plan was announced undercuts the administration’s claims that opposition to the plan is largely confined to the Palestinian leadership and raises concerns that the implementation of the proposal could ignite a new round of violence.

The poll by the well-regarded Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research was published as thousands of Palestinians rallied in Yehuda and Shomron and Gaza to reject the Trump plan and express support for Mahmoud Abbas in his efforts to gain backing at the U.N. Security Council for a resolution opposing it.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen such a level of consensus among the Palestinian public,” said Khalil Shikaki, the head of the polling center.

Shikaki said support for the idea of a two-state solution with Israel has dropped to the lowest level since the center began carrying out surveys nearly three decades ago, with 39% in favor and 59% opposed. Support for a one-state solution — long rejected by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders — jumped from 28% in December to 37% today.

The poll found that 64% of Palestinians favor a return to armed struggle in response to the plan. Shikaki said the last time support was this high was during the worst days of the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, that convulsed the region from 2000 to 2005.

“In all the questions in which violence is mentioned we see an increase, a significant increase,” he said.

The survey had a margin of error of 3%.

Abbas’ popularity has plummeted in recent years as he has failed to bring about an independent state or mend the internal rift with Hamas, which seized Gaza from his forces in 2007. His Palestinian Authority also faces widespread allegations of corruption.

But on Tuesday thousands of Palestinians packed into Manara Square in Ramallah to vent their anger at the Trump plan and express support for Abbas. A similar rally in support of Abbas was held in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

“Trump is part of the problem not the solution,” an English-language banner read. “Trump’s plan = apartheid,” read another.

“All Palestinian people and all the factions, national and Islamic, are standing behind President Mahmoud Abbas,” Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh told the crowd in Ramallah. “All the streets are full,” he said. “This is the Palestinian response.”

As the rally dispersed, dozens of Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces near the Jewish town of Beit El just outside Ramallah. The protesters burned tires and hurled stones at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said two people were lightly wounded by small-caliber gunfire in the clashes and several others were struck by rubber bullets.