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The poll found that 51% of the interviewees supported this attack and 44% opposed it. It was somewhat more popular in Hamas-run Gaza, where 61% approved of it, than in the West Bank, where a minority of “only” 44% did so. The attack’s popularity clearly was not harmed by the fact that 49% thought Hamas’s motivation was to derail the talks—a goal shared by a large majority of the interviewees in any case.
This does not mean, however, that Hamas itself is popular. Asked whom they would vote for if new presidential elections were held today, 57% chose Abbas and only 36% Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader in Gaza. As for legislative elections, 45% would vote for Abbas’s Fatah and only 26% for Hamas. In both cases the results are almost identical to results obtained in June.
That is, Hamas did not gain popularity from the terror attack. It’s the attack itself that is popular among the Palestinians.
In another notable finding, it turns out that if presidential elections were held between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, not only would participation in the elections increase considerably but Barghouti would trounce Haniyeh by 65%-30%. Barghouti, a Fatah figure, was one of the key leaders of the Second Intifada terror onslaught against Israel and is now serving a life sentence in Israel on five counts of murder (he was acquitted on 33 other charges of murder for lack of evidence). Clearly, this not only does not harm his popularity among the Palestinians but enhances it.
Also worthy of note is that, though Hamas-run Gaza is generally considered more dictatorial than the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, 65% of West Bankers said they cannot criticize their government without fear and just about the identical total—66%—of Gazans said the same about their government.
Seemingly, those who fervently espouse Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza as a formula for peace should take note of these appalling findings. Supporters of Israel should demand that the Obama administration explain how creating a dictatorship whose population strongly backs terror, and whose leaders are likely to be terrorists, is consistent with American values and interests.
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