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December 17, 2012 12:25 pm

New Poll Shows Palestinian Majority Supports Hamas Over Fatah

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Women wearing the Hamas headband. Photo: Kimdime.

A new poll shows that Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank almost unanimously approve of Hamas’s recent handling of an 8-day conflict with Israel. In the poll, which was conducted by the Arab World for Research and Development, 90 percent of respondents said that “the confrontations and the resulting truce represent a victory for the Palestinians” while only 10 percent disagreed with this statement. 89 percent said their opinion of Hamas has  “improved or improved to some extent,”  while only 8 percent say that their views “diminished.”

As for who Palestinian Arabs would like to have govern them, more respondents chose the Haniyeh (Hamas) government (34 percent) than did the Fayyad (Fatah) government (25 percent). 41 percent did not choose either government or said they weren’t sure.

“An overwhelming 88% of the entire sample believed that the result of Operation Pillar of Defense proved that armed struggle is the best means of achieving Palestinian independence,” reported the Times of Israel.

“In terms of the two major objectives that most Palestinians want–a state of their own and an economy that gives rather than takes–there’s real frustration and I think this reflects that,” Aaron David Miller, Vice President of the Woodrow Wilson Center, and former adviser to Democratic and Republican secretaries of state, told The Algemeiner.

“These are just snapshots. In the event you have a real effort to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, assuming it would be successful those attitudes would change.”

But Miller stresses that the poll shouldn’t be used to gauge any long-term trend.  “Sure, West Bankers are frustrated and Hamas has acted in terms of gaining financial, political and psychological victories in the wake of the ceasefire agreement and that’s what these polls reflect. And there’s a not surprisingly fleeting success from Abbas’s efforts at the UN, but it seems to me there’s really much less than meets the eye.”

Barak Seener, Associate Middle East Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute says that these new figures are significant. “The numbers mean that there is little appetite for peace talks (among Palestinians) as Hamas was able to project the image of winning in its recent sortie with Israel, by not having its infrastructure significantly eroded as occurred in the end of 2008.”

Seener was not surprised by the findings. “In the Middle East the aspiration for sovereignty is often […] based on resistance rather than only to achieve genuine prospects and growth,” he said. “It would be a fallacy to draw a spurious distinction between ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists.'”

“To see sovereignty based on resistance, one just needs to take a look at Fatah and Hamas’s charters respectively. Thus Hamas and Fatah both have a symbiotic relationship and differing only in terms of strategies vis a vis eroding Israel’s security whether it be in terms of firing rockets or going to the UN,” Seener added.

The sample size of the poll was 1,200 Palestinians in the West Bank & Gaza with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

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