The frenzied period of Islamist discontent continues as a new poll, conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre, indicates that Palestinian support for Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank has fallen precipitously. According to Haaretz, the group’s approval rating is at 18.8 percent, compared to the 27.7 percent it enjoyed last January, immediately following the Israeli assault. Moreover, almost as many Palestinians blame Hamas for its stalled political negotiation with Fatah as they do Israel (23.5 percent to 26.5 percent, respectively), despite the fact that Israel has continued to block the transfer of reconstruction materials into the Gaza Strip for fear they’d be used to fashion weapons. If Hamas aims to be defeated with ballots instead of bombs, as Hezbollah so conspicuously was in Lebanon this month, then it’s certainly doing everything it can to ensure that outcome.
However, the Haaretz article doesn’t specify perhaps the most important aspect of the poll of roughly 2,000 Palestinians: when it was taken. Was this before or after the revolt in Iran and the international scorn heaped upon the theocratic regime there, which been the chief sponsor and encourager of both Hamas and Hezbollah?
Most surprising of all may be how Palestinians view Barack Obama. More than 49 percent think he’ll have no impact whatsoever on the peace process. Though for perennial peace optimists, a Fatah victory would finally give Israel a negotiating partner that recognizes Israel’s right to exist, which may be an auspicious complement to Benjamin Netanyahu’s grudging about-face on Palestinian statehood.
Poll: Hamas popularity falls in both West Bank and Gaza [Haaretz]