• February 6, 2009

Hamas’ popularity soaring following Israel’s Gaza blitz

Hamas’ popularity soaring following Israel’s Gaza blitz

The latest public opinion survey in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has shown a dramatic rise in Hamas’ popularity among Palestinians, with a significant decline in Fatah’s public standing.

Moreover, the poll showed that a majority of Palestinians believed that the advent of the Obama administration in the U.S.  wouldn’t make a big difference with regard to American efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue.

According to the poll, Turkey, Venezuela and Iran as well as Hezbullah are the most popular regional forces among Palestinians.

The results of the latest poll, conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC)  from 29-31 January, showed that nearly 48 % of respondents believed that Hamas came out of the Israeli blitz against Gaza victorious. Nearly 10 per cent opined that Israel won the war, while over a third of respondents, 37.4% said that neither side achieved victory.

The poll, surveying a  random sample of 1,198 respondents, found a dramatic rise in the popularity of Hamas, especially in the West Bank.

In contrast, the popularity of the Fatah movement suffered a significant decline, especially in the West Bank.

When asked if general Palestinian elections were held today, 28.6% of respondents said they would vote for Hamas. Fatah’s standing declined from 34% last April to 27.9 in this poll.

According to the latest poll, trust in Hamas rose from 16.6% last November to 27.7 % in this poll. In contrast, the percentage of those who said they trusted Fatah fell down  from  31.3%  to 26%.

According to a press release by the JMCC, the rise in Hamas’ popularity occurred mainly in the West Bank, which is controlled by the Western Backed Palestinian Authority.

Similarly, the percentage of those who said they trusted Ismael Haniya, the Prime Minister of the Gaza-based Palestinian  government, increased from 12.8% last October to 21.1 in this poll.  Trust in PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas went down from 15.5% last October to 13.4 in this poll.

The poll showed that  the percentage of those opining that the performance of the American-backed government of Salam Fayad is better than that of the Gaza-based government declined significantly  from 36%  last April to 26.9% in this poll.

However, those who believed that the performance of the Fayad government is worse than that of the Haniya’s government rose substantially  from 29.1 to 40% per cent.

The latest poll also found that support for military resistance against the Israeli occupation  rose from 49.5% last April to 53.5% in this poll.

Moreover, the poll showed a rise in the percentage of Palestinians opposed to peace talks with Israel.

Turkey, Venezuela and several other political and other entities  have also become more popular among Palestinians, according to the latest poll.

Turkey received the highest point of 89.6 %, followed by Venezuela (80.6 %) .

The  International Committee of the Red Cross received a satisfaction mark of  (79.8) followed by UNRWA (78.6 %).

Qatar received a satisfaction mark of 68.3%,  Hezbullah 66.9 %, the Muslim Brotherhood movement 57.6 % and Iran 55.9%.

The US received the satisfaction of only 2.8 of respondents, Britain, 10.4%, Germany 14.4 %  France was the western country that received the satisfaction of the highest percentage of respondents, at 21.5 per cent.

Egypt and Jordan received 35.1% and 41.7 % respectively.

Finally, when asked which entity you would prefer to assume the task of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, respondents gave the following answers: A majority of 30.6% said they prefer an international mechanism under UN supervision to assume this task.  The second choice was for a Palestinian  national unity government to oversee the reconstruction. More than 23% said they preferred the government of Hamas to do the job, while a minority of 13.7 % said they prefer the Palestinian Authority to assume the task.

The decline in Fatah’s popularity can be attributed to the widespread public dissatisfaction with the Ramallah regime’s lukewarm stance during the war.

Many Palestinians had the impression that at least some of the PA and PLO leaders adopted a “conspiratorial stance” during the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Some PA officials had reportedly made remarks voicing the hope that Israel would destroy the Hamas government in Gaza.

Some PLO leaders, such as Yasser Abed Rabbo, reportedly criticized Israel for ending the war too soon without “finishing off Hamas.”

Another important reason for Fatah’s dwindling  popularity seems to have to do with the widespread suppression by PA security forces of public descent during the war.

PA security agencies  prevented and in many instances violently suppressed pro-Hamas protests during the war.

Dozens of Palestinians, mainly Hamas sympathizers, have also been arrested by the PA security apparatus  in the West Bank.

The latest opinion poll is not going to be a good news for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas has been calling for early presidential and legislative elections in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the hope of ending Hamas’ government in the Gaza Strip.