Poll finds dramatic rise in Palestinian support for Hamas

Despite high approval ratings, Hamas will struggle to capitalize on its popularity.

By World Israel News Staff

Hamas is enjoying an upsurge in popularity following the recent Gaza war. A new poll has found 75 percent of Palestinians view the terror group as victors in a war to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites from Israel. And 60 percent support armed conflict with Israel.

The survey of Palestinians living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza also found support for Palestinian Authority President Abbas fall sharply, with 53% of Palestinians believing Hamas is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people,” while only 14% prefer Abbas’ secular Fatah party.

The survey was done by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. PCPSR director Dr. Khalil Shikaki said that the results followed a typical pattern of the ebb and flow of Hamas popularity. He said that public opinion swings towards Hamas in the aftermath of wars with Israel. However, that popularity dissipates in three to six months as Palestinians see Hamas failing to deliver on promises to improve life.

“Clearly, in the eyes of the public, Hamas came out as a winner,” Shikaki said, adding that it will struggle to maintain those gains as it has little control over events in Jerusalem.

Shikaki added that Abbas could potentially regain support, but only if he shows initiative, either by reforming the PA, which is seen as increasingly corrupt and authoritarian, or by taking part in some kind of diplomatic push after a 12-year hiatus in the peace process.

The survey also found that 70% wanted Palestinian presidential and legislative elections to be held soon.

The PCPSR report on its findings added that the unprecedented outbreak of violence between Jews and Arab Israelis caught the attention of the Palestinian public and “seem to have contributed to a significant reduction in support for the one-state solution, which declined from a third to a fifth in three months.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.