The Surprising Opinions of Palestinians

By David Pollock: President Trump returned from Jerusalem and Bethlehem with no agreements in hand. But behind the scenes, a new poll reveals that much of the Palestinian public actually agrees with several key points Trump raised.

The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, and comprised face-to-face interviews May 16-27 among a representative sample of 1,540 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, under my overall direction. Its surprising findings offer unexpected room for political and diplomatic maneuvering, and perhaps even some hope of progress, during the coming months.

The most startling finding concerns the Palestinian Authority bonuses paid to convicted terrorists. Israel, the U.S. Congress, and lately the Trump administration have all decried this “pay for slay” policy. The PA has claimed that popular pressure compels it to persist in this practice. In fact, the survey shows that two-thirds of Palestinians think “the PA should give prisoners’ families normal social benefits like everybody else, not extra payments based on their sentences or armed operations.” Among West Bankers, the exact figure is 65.9%; among Gazans, 67.2%.