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Younger Palestinians less interested in the ‘cause’? — not according to Arab News-YouGov findings

 A Palestinian youth holds a flag as he walks past burning tires during a protest near the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City on February 26, 2023. (AFP/File Photo)
A Palestinian youth holds a flag as he walks past burning tires during a protest near the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City on February 26, 2023. (AFP/File Photo)
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15 May 2023 03:05:49 GMT9
15 May 2023 03:05:49 GMT9
  • Survey shows Palestinian youth believe return of Jerusalem is a non-negotiable with only 1 percent allowing Israelis to have it to themselves

Nadia Al-Faour

DUBAI: A YouGov survey of Palestinian residents of different ages shows that younger people are far less likely to support a two-state solution: the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel.   

The survey, a special Arab News-YouGov collaboration, showed that Palestinians between the ages of 18 to 24 make up 42 percent of those who support the idea, while more than 63 percent of those above the age of 45 are willing to support the initiative.  

Chris Doyle, director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding, told Arab News: “Palestinian youth showed not least in 2021 that they refuse to give up on their rights. Their efforts to obstruct the demolitions and dispossessions in Sheikh Jarrah were incredible. It reminds us of the 1987 intifada when it was Palestinian youth who led and orchestrated the uprising.”   

In 2017, US President Donald Trump moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and declaring the city the official capital of Israel.   

It was a bold move that attracted criticism from Palestinians, Arab leaders and the EU alike.

The survey shows that Palestinian youth found the official return of Jerusalem a non-negotiable with only 1 percent allowing Israelis to have it fully and with the creation of a Palestinian capital elsewhere.    

Other proposed solutions such as dividing the city, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state and West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, was favored at only 15 percent; at odds with the 35 percent above the age of 45 who also supported this solution.   

The reason why older generations prefer to compromise is unclear.  

Doyle believes: “It may well be fatigue that prompts some of the elderly to compromise but also it may be born of realism, too, that for them the two-state solution appears to be the only possible option. The trouble is that all these options are unclear. The Palestinian people are not being offered a clearly defined deal. So what are they accepting or refusing?”   

Establishing a united Jerusalem under UN management and supervision also drew a low score with youth (5 percent) at odds with the 16 percent score of those above 45 years of age.

Another issue tackled in the survey was Palestinian views on the Abraham Accords.

The accords, a series of official joint normalization statements between the UAE, Israel, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco that was rendered effective in 2020, showed a fundamental shift in Arab-Israeli relations. 

Three years on, the initiative failed to bring in new Arab member states to normalize relations with Israel. The survey shows that Palestinians of all age groups continue to view the normalization negatively. 

Assuming a Palestinian state was founded, economic development and creating jobs ranked the highest among citizens’ priorities.

Today, both the West Bank and the Gaza strip remain heavily dependent on foreign aid.

A World Bank report released last month estimated that the Palestinian economy will slump further this year. The bleak economic situation of Palestine is due to restrictions on mobility, imports and trade imposed by Israel.

Recent military escalations and tensions as well as the global effect of the Russia invasion of Ukraine are factors that negatively impact Palestinian standards of living as well as the economy.

Stefan Emblad, World Bank country director for the West Bank and Gaza, said that “raising living standards, improving the sustainability of fiscal accounts and reducing unemployment in a meaningful manner will all require significantly higher growth rates. Exogenous sources of risks, such as in the areas of food and energy prices, mean the overall economic outlook remains bleak.” 

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