|University of Oslo
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This thesis examines variation in Palestinian public opinion on a key contemporary issue in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict - rocket attacks. From the first rocket was launched in April 2001 public opinion surveys have reported increasing acceptance and support for this expression of armed resistance. While 80% of the Palestinian population opposed the rocket attacks into southern Israel in 2006, just above 40% did the same in 2008. This study does not seek the reasons behind this development, but aims to shed light on the variation in Palestinian public opinion - who is it that supports the continuation of rocket launches? Analysis of variation in attitudes towards political violence is not an established field in social science. Nonetheless, three related and more established areas of study provided a natural theoretical point of departure: (i) studies of civil war, (ii) studies of participation in violent rebel networks, and (iii) studies of attitudes towards peace and reconciliation. Contrary to the deprivation thesis, I find that perceiving you circumstances as safe, you life as good and living in a relatively safe and prosperous regions are all attributes related to higher support for continuation of rocket attacks. It is argued that the findings are best explained by opportunity arguments. The poorest, most marginalized individuals living in already unstable environments cannot tackle the increased risk associated with continued rocket launches. Living in stable and prosperous circumstances makes you more able to tackle potential consequences. From this I conclude that it is not marginality, frustration or aggression that best explains variation in Palestinian public opinion but people s ability or opportunity to resist. The study does not, however, conclude that deprivation theory is irrelevant. Having the opportunity to revolt does not mean that you will revolt. Having the opportunity to revolt in combination with feeling deprived and marginalized, however, seems to be the essential combination. While a respondent from a wealthy household in central West Bank supports armed resistance, it is very likely that his reasons for doing so is linked to the suppression, instability and widespread poverty of his fellow poorer Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.