I've just seen the first public opinion survey carried out in the West Bank and Gaza since the war, and the results are about what you'd expect: Hamas has gained politically and Fatah has declined. Since I haven't seen it reported anywhere yet, here are the main findings of the survey carried out by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center between January 29-31:
- Who won? 9.8% said Israel, 46.7% said Hamas, and 37.4% said neither. Interesting: Gazans were more likely to say "neither" (48.4%) and West Bankers more likely to say "Hamas" (53.3%)
- Were Palestinians convinced by the Israeli argument that Palestinian civilians were killed because Hamas was hiding among them? No. Only 5.1% in the West Bank and 5.9% overall agreed with that, while 72% blamed Israel for targeting civilians.
- Who is to blame? 76.8% say that Israel was planning to launch the war, and that Palestinians could not have avoided it.
- What about America's role? 2.8% were satisfied, within the 3% margin of error.
- Will Obama make a difference? 28.1% are more optimistic since the inauguration, 18.9% more pessimistic, and 48.2% say it will make no difference.
- The winners in inter-Arab politics: Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. The most popular Arab actor by far was Qatar: 68.3% were satisfied with its role. Iran, by comparison, satisfied only 55.9% -- and did better in the West Bank (64.4%) than in Gaza (41.4%), while Turkey satisfied 89.6% (consistent with the pro-Erdogan demonstrations in Gaza the other day). 57.6% were satisfied with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
- The less winners in inter-Arab politics: Egypt and Jordan (and presumably Saudi Arabia). 35.1% were satisfied and 64% were dissatisfied with Egypt's role; 41.7% were satisfied with Jordan's role. Amazingly, the survey did not report findings about satisfaction with Saudi Arabia for reasons which may be self-evident but are all the more worth speculating about.
- Palestinian winners and losers? Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas didn't fare well: 13.2% very satisfied, 49.9% very dissatisfied; adding in the "somewhat" responses gives Mahmoud Abbas a rating of 33.6% satisfaction. Gazans were marginally more satisfied than West Bankers (39.7% to 30%). Isma'il Haniya of Hamas is now the most trusted figure in Palestinian politics, with 21.1%, followed by Abbas with 13.4%. But perhaps the main tell: "Don't trust anyone" is the runaway winner with 31.1%. If Parliamentary elections were held today, Hamas now enjoys a slim
lead over Fatah, 28.6% to 27.9%. Hamas support is up from 19.3% last
- And of course, the violence. Support for using locally-made rockets has increased from 39.3% in April to 50.8%, and support for military operations against Israeli targets is up from 49.5% to 53.5%. 41% now oppose peace negotiations, compared to 34.7% last year.
Arguments may now proceed along predictable lines as to the validity of
the survey research in such a difficult environment,
its importance, and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.