(photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)
Talk of an outbreak of a third intifada (uprising) by the Palestinians against Israeli rule appears to be growing, but a growing number of voices predict that should it erupt, it would be a much more non-violent form of protest.
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“If there will be a third intifada, I am not sure, but if there is a third Intifada, we will try to make it a non-violent intifada,” Ahmed Nazzal, a political science student at Al Quds University, told The Media Line.
He said that between 1923 and 2000 the Palestinians had conducted over 20 “revolts” or intifadas but to no avail.
“All these intifadas just failed. And now we will try what happened in the Arab world, the non-violent demonstrations. It’s better.”
The bristling, co-ed campus of Al-Quds University on the outskirts of Jerusalem was abuzz with students wrapping up the semester’s classes. Still, the students reflected on the changes sweeping the Arab world, pondering whether it could happen here.
“I am inspired because this gives us the push to go ahead in our relations with the Israelis with no forces and with no killings and no nothing. We can protest as peacefully as they did and we can gain our rights,” said Shahd Taweel, an English major. “I am scared because I don’t know what is going to happen after this revolution.”
Hani Abdo, an English literature major, proudly states that it was the Palestinians who inspired the Arab world with its uprisings against Israeli rule.
“I thought of it not as a source of inspiration for me, but I thought we Palestinians inspired the Arab people for doing such revolutions, because, as you know, our people stared this revolution a long time ago,” Abdo told The Media Line. “I am hoping for a Palestinian state, but I am not expecting it any time soon.”
A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that a majority of Palestinians (70.5%) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip believe a third intifada would break out if the deadlock in negotiations with Israel continues.
A similar poll last May found that 72.2% of Palestinians opposed a third intifada. Pollsters believe the flip resulted from the impact of popular movements in the Arab world and increased use of social networks like Facebook to rally Palestinian youth.
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) said in a recent poll that an overwhelming 92% of Palestinian youth sympathized with demonstrations in the Arab world and that two-thirds expect this development to have a positive impact on Palestinian conditions.
Ominously, the survey also found that in the absence of negotiations some 25% preferred to resume armed conflict, while just 18% would prefer non-violent confrontation with the Israelis. Another 33% were holding out for the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state.
The so-called “First Intifada” which erupted in 1987 and unofficially ended with the Oslo peace accords in 1993 was a popular uprising against Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While about 1,100 Palestinians and 160 Israelis were killed in the clashes, it was also marked by internecine Arab violence that saw another 1,000 Palestinians slain as suspected collaborators.
The Second Intifada, a much bloodier period, erupted in September 2000.
By the time it was considered over in 2006, over 6,500 Palestinians and
1,100 Israelis had been killed, mainly due to the widespread use of
weapons and suicide bombers; and Israel’s firm response.
“No, I don’t’ think there is going to be a ‘Third Intifada.’ People are
tired of killing each other and people are sick of death,” said Taweel,
the English major. “If there is going to be another intifada it is going
to be one of peaceful protest rather than killing -- what happened in
the first and second intifada -- because that was bad more than it was
good for us.”
Ahmed Nazzal said he had “many, many Jewish friends” but had a problem
with the Israeli government. He is holding out hope that US President
Obama will come through with support for a Palestinian state.
“We are looking to make a state in September and I am so excited as a
Palestinian and a student of political science and as an activist,”
Nazzal said. “This revolution inspires us here in Palestine. They always
said that the Arab world is not democratic, but we will make our