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In 1996, I appeared on a panel with Khalil Shikaki, the pioneering director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR); since then, I have been increasingly impressed with his insights and his institute’s professionalism.
I therefore took particular notice of a PSR survey that appeared after the August 2014 ceasefire ending the latest war between Israel and Hamas.
Each of the four has conducted between 50 and 120 polls and has made the results available online in English (and generally in Arabic).
Although commentators typically describe the four as having differing perspectives, all are independent of any government, party, or other institutional framework that might introduce systematic bias into their work.
The government has increasingly been viewed as corrupt, undemocratic, and unable to enforce law and order or to reform itself.
The economy has generally been weak, infrastructure sub-par, and the PA unable at times to pay salaries.
Who is responsible for the problems plaguing the Palestinians?
During the last two decades, the four institutes whose surveys I examined have asked numerous questions on this subject, and on 53 occasions have offered Israel as one of the possible answers.
My interest in Arab public opinion in the West Bank and Gaza is longstanding, dating back to the time regular surveying began there shortly before the 1993 Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO.All conduct face-to-face interviews; customarily include more than 1,000 people in each survey; use variants of “area-probability” sampling; and train fieldworkers extensively—which means that the margin of error for their polls is typically 3 to 5 percent, with a confidence level of 95 percent.Moreover, many of their questions are asked repeatedly over time, making it possible to adjust for momentary swings of opinion.How do they view the Jewish claim to at least a part of the land of Israel, and especially Jerusalem?And what do they believe about the legitimacy, efficacy, and desirability of carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis?