Photo Credit: Atia Mohammed/Flash90
Gaza Arabs at the site of an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis, in the southern Strip, December 13, 2023.

Over the years I have learned to respect the periodic reports of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Based in Ramallah, the PCPSR was founded by political scientist Khalil Shikaki, who consults regularly with Israeli political scientists and has conducted joint polls with Israeli researchers, including Tel Aviv University. In 2003, PCPSR’s offices in Ramallah were ransacked by rioters after the center published a survey showing that only 10% of Arab refugees would choose to live in Israel if offered the right of return.

In 2021, PCPSR released a survey that detected the now-explosive surge in support for Hamas and the plummeting support for Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.


This is why I believe wholeheartedly the results of Wednesday’s PCPSR survey that suggested a growing mental illness in the Arab population of the PA and Gaza.

First, the survey was conducted in the PA and Gaza Strip between November 22 and December 2, 2023, but to ensure the safety of the field researchers in Gaza, face-to-face interviews there were conducted during the short-lived ceasefire.

The sample size is 1231 adults, of whom 750 were interviewed face-to-face in the PA and 481 in Strip, in 121 randomly selected locations. The margin of error for this poll is unusually high: +/-4, to account for “the lack of precision regarding the number of residents who stayed in their homes, or shelters, in the northern parts of the Gaza Strip which we did not sample.”

So, let’s look at the bullet-pointed summary of the changes in attitude as crunched by Professor Shikaki et al:

  • Support for Hamas has more than tripled in the PA compared to three months ago. In the Gaza Strip, support for Hamas increased but not significantly.
  • Support for Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party dropped significantly. The same is true for the trust in the PA as a whole, as demand for its dissolution rises to nearly 60%, the highest percentage ever recorded in PCPSR surveys.
  • Demand for Abbas’s resignation rose to around 90 percent, and even higher in the PA.
  • The most popular political figure remains Marwan Barghouti, who still beats Hamas’s candidate Ismail Haniyeh and any other opponent.
  • Support for armed struggle rose ten percentage points compared to three months ago, with more than 60% saying it is the best means of ending the Israeli occupation. In the PA, the percentage rose to close to 70%.
  • A majority in the PA believes that the formation of armed groups is the most effective means of combating “settler terrorism.”
  • Support for the two-state solution has increased slightly in both the PA and the Gaza Strip, inspired by the renewed US and European talk about it.
Israeli soldiers round up cows in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, December 12, 2023. / Chaim Goldberg/Flash90


The survey authors asked respondents to speculate about Hamas’s reasons for the October 7 offensive. The overwhelming majority (81%; 89% in the PA and 69% in Gaza) said it was a “response to settler attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinian citizens, and for the release of prisoners from Israeli prisons;” while only 14% (5% in the PA and 27% in Gaza) thought it was an Iranian plot.

You could file that one under political differences, seeing as PA Arabs are routinely saturated with news of Jewish settlers invading the Temple Mount. But then, when asked what they thought of Hamas’s decision to launch the October 7 attack given its outcome so far, 72% of respondents (82% in the PA and 57% in Gaza) said it was a correct decision. Only 22% (12% in the PA and 37% in Gaza) said it was wrong.

Asked what is Israel looking to gain from the war, the majority of respondents (53%) said it is to destroy the Gaza Strip and kill or expel its population; 42% (50% in Gaza and 37% in the PA) think the goal is to exact revenge against Hamas and destroy it completely. But when asked if Israel will succeed in causing a second Nakba in the Gaza Strip, 73% (83% in the PA and 59% in Gaza) said it will not, and only 24% (14% in the PA and 40% in Gaza) said it will succeed.

The vast majority (70%) think Israel will fail in its attempt to eradicate Hamas, only 8% think it will succeed, and 21% think it will only weaken Hamas. PA Arabs are more certain than Gazans that Israel will fail (87% and 44% respectively). Only 1% of PA Arabs think Israel will succeed in eradicating Hamas, compared to 17% in Gaza.

And the overwhelming majority (85%; 96% in the PA and 70% in Gaza) think that Israel will not succeed in expelling Gazans out of the Strip; Only 13% (3% in the PA and 29% in Gaza) think it will succeed.

Also, a majority of 71% of respondents believe Gazans who left their homes during the war to safer areas will be able to return to these homes once the war stops. But PA Arabs are much more optimistic on this count than are the Gazans, 83% and 53% respectively.

A Hanukkah menorah was lit at Hostage Square in Tel Aviv, where a permanent dinner table is set for those still in Hamas captivity, December 13, 2023. / Miriam Alster/FLASH90


A stunning 95% of respondents think Israel has committed war crimes in this war, but only 10% think Hamas also committed such crimes. 4% think Israel has not committed such crimes and 89% think Hamas did not commit war crimes.

85% say they did not see videos of international news outlets depicting atrocities committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians, such as the killing of women and children in their homes; only 14% (7% in the PA and 25% in Gaza) saw these videos.

When asked if Hamas did commit these atrocities, the overwhelming majority said no, it did not, and only 7% (1% in the PA and 16% in Gaza) said it did.


Almost two-thirds (64%) are opposed to the participation of the PA in meetings with the US, alongside Jordan and Egypt, to discuss the future of the Gaza Strip after the war. Only 33% (28% in the PA and 40% in Gaza) support PA participation in such meetings.

Asked to speculate about the party that will be in control of the Gaza Strip the day after the end of the war, almost two-thirds (64%; 73% in the PA and 51% in Gaza) said it will be Hamas; 11% preferred a PA national unity government but without Abbas; 7% selected the PA with Abbas; 4% selected Israel; 3% selected one or more Arab country; 2% selected a national unity government under Abbas’s leadership; and 1% selected the UN.

When asked about their preferences for the party that should be in control in the Gaza Strip after the war, 60% (75% in the PA but only 38% in Gaza) selected Hamas; 16% selected a PA national unity government without Abbas; 7% selected the PA with Abbas; 3% selected one or more Arab countries; 3% selected a national unity government under Abbas, and 2% selected the Israeli army.

72% (80% in the PA and 61% in Gaza) think Hamas will succeed in returning to rule over the Gaza Strip after the war despite Israel’s vow to eradicate it; 23% (15% in the PA and 36% in Gaza) do not think Hamas will succeed in resuming control over the Gaza Strip.

If the “West Bank” and the Gaza Strip are unified under the Palestinian Authority, only 28% (20% in the PA and 39% in Gaza) would support and 70% (77% in the PA and 60% in Gaza) would oppose the deployment of an Arab security contingent from Egypt or Jordan.

But if this Arab contingency provided basic administrative and health services, support would increase to 45% (43% in the PA and 48% in Gaza) but 53% (54% in the PA and 51% in Gaza) would still oppose that presence.

The “Palestinians” are not enamored with their brethren across the border.

However, Yemen was favored by 80% (89% in the PA and 68% in Gaza), followed by Qatar (56%), Hezbollah (49%), Iran (35%), and Turkey (34%). 

Arab countries that are not part of the pro-Iran circle are not liked at all: Jordan (24%), Egypt (23%), UAE (8), and Saudi Arabia (5%).

Finally, only PA respondents were asked to evaluate their safety and security, and only 14% felt safe and secure while 86% felt unsafe and insecure.

Three months ago, the perception of safety stood at 48%.

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