What the Palestinians Want

Most no longer believe in two-state solution, see violence as only way forward; elections would make convicted terrorist president

By Rami Dabbas | | Topics: palestinians, Sheikh Jarrah
Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90

If presidential elections were held today in the Palestinian Authority, jailed terrorist Marwan Barghouti would receive the most votes. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would follow, and current President Mahmoud Abbas would stand no chance.

A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found that the popularity of incumbent Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is at an all-time low. Forty-five percent of those polled believe that given Hamas’ dominant position in the Palestinian parliament, a representative of the Islamist faction could be president.


Justification for war?

Among other results from the survey, an overwhelming majority of Palestinians (71 percent) believe that Hamas emerged victorious in the last war with Israel. Only 3 percent say Israel won, while 21 percent insist there was no victor.

Some 67 percent of respondents said they believe Hamas that its decision to fire rockets at Israeli cities and plunge the region into war was in defense of Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa Mosque. Ten percent said the war was an act of protest over the Palestinian Authority’s cancellation of elections, while 19 percent believe Hamas was motivated by both situations.


More trouble in Jerusalem

If Israel moves forward with the court-approved eviction of Palestinian families living in a Jewish-owned property in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, or if it reintroduces any restrictions on Muslim access to the Temple Mount for any reason, 60 percent of survey respondents said Hamas and other Palestinian factions should again launch missiles at Israeli cities.

Only 20 percent of Palestinians insisted on a non-violent, diplomatic reaction, while 13 percent said the PA should file official complaints with the UN and the International Criminal Court (ICC).


A new president

Seventy-three percent of those polled support holding presidential and legislative elections in the Palestinian territories in the near future, while 23 percent say they do not support this.

If new presidential elections were held today and only two were nominated, Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, then just 51 percent of Palestinians would vote, with 34 percent of these respondents voting for Abbas and 56 percent for Haniyeh. If jailed Palestinian terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti were allowed to run, participation would increase to 66 percent, and Barghouti would receive 55 percent of the vote, to Haniyeh’s 39 percent.


Hamas remains on top

If new elections to the Legislative Council (parliament) were held today with the participation of all factions that participated in the 2006 elections, 68 percent of Palestinians would turn out to the polls. Of those, 37 percent say they would vote for Hamas, and 32 percent for Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction.


War over diplomacy

Support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has dropped to 36 percent, while 62 percent oppose such an outcome. A 63 percent majority believes that a two-state solution is no longer feasible due to the expansion of Israeli settlements, while 32 percent believe that a negotiated outcome remains possible.

So what’s the way forward? Twenty-eight percent of Palestinians believe that it remains preferable to reach a peace agreement with Israel, but a much larger 39 percent plurality insist that it’s again time to wage an “armed struggle” against the Jewish state. Ten percent want to see “non-violent resistance,” while 18 percent are just fine with the status quo.

Under the current conditions, a 61-percent majority are against the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, while 24 percent support them.

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