Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Monday 9 May 2011

Public Opinion in Palestine: Results of a New Poll

The Ramallah-based Palestine News Agency WAFA reports:

"A new survey by Near East Consulting (NEC) published Wednesday revealed that 72% of Palestinians surveyed believe that the Palestinians do not have a partner for peace in Israel.
According to the survey, a majority of 70% think that the Palestinian Authority will be able to apply for declaration of a Palestinian state in the Security Council in September 2011.
In addition, 89% think that it is necessary to end the internal dispute before the declaration.
The survey, conducted during the last week of April, said 70% of the Palestinians were aware of the local elections that will be held in July, and the same percentage said that they will participate.
Regarding the truce with Israel, half of the Palestinians think that Hamas will not be able to enforce the truce and prevent other factions from firing rockets against Israel, noting that only 27% support the firing of rockets from Gaza against Israel. Also 71% of the Palestinians believe that Hamas should change its position on the elimination of the state of Israel.
As for factional trust, the popularity of Fatah has reached 40% compared to 6% trust for Hamas. A total of 6% said they trust other factions, while about half (48%) do not trust any faction.
About 48% of the respondents expressed their trust towards Abbas, and 10% for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, while 42% said neither. A total of 57% give legitimacy to the Fayyad government, and 12% to the Haniyeh government, but 30% believe neither is legitimate.
In response to the question as to which strategy respondents think is better for maximizing Palestinian national interest, 49% preferred the Fatah strategy while 9% favored Hamas. About 42% gave no preference to either strategy.
About how the respondents identify themselves, the majority, 57%, identified themselves as Muslims, 21% identified themselves as Palestinians first, 19% as human beings first and 5% as Arabs first.
The increase in adherence to religious identity is also reflected in the system preferred by the Palestinian people.
About 40% of the respondents said that they believe that the Islamic caliphate is the best system for Palestinians, 24% chose a system like one of the Arab countries, and 12 % prefer a system like one of the European countries.
As for the economic situation, the results showed that 50% of the Palestinians live below the poverty level, (58% in the Gaza Strip and 43% in the West Bank).
The survey was conducted on a random sample of 844 Palestinians over the age of 18 in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem. The margin of error was +/-3.4% and the confidence level was 95%."
Many people will take encouragement from some of these results, especially the one revealing that 71 per cent of respondents wish Hamas would change its stance on Israel's right to exist.

But at least one commentator on the poll's results, Professor Barry Rubin, urges caution.  He warns:

"This says something important about the steep decline in Arab nationalism but brings into question Fatah-style Palestinian nationalism, too. One can see oneself primarily as a Muslim and still support Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, but this upward trend also indicates of the growth of thinking likely to lead people toward backing Hamas in future....
When asked whether they support Fatah or Hamas the results are so overwhelmingly pro-Fatah as to make one suspicious. It is safer for someone living in a dictatorship to discuss general principles rather than oppose that government in conversation with outsiders. Yet, again, one would expect a Fatah supporter to highlight a Palestinian or Arab identity rather than a Muslim one.
What this poll, and other indications, suggests to me is that the potential constituency for Islamism (Hamas) is at least 40 percent, for Palestinian nationalism (Fatah, Palestinian Authority) just over 20 percent, and for democracy about 12 percent. Most of those who expressed no opinion would probably support the PA to give it an election victory but that cannot be assumed....
Remember that in most of the rest of the Third World, even where dictatorship exists, a moderate democratic state is a popular aspiration. It may not be what people have but it is what the majority wants. This really doesn't seem to be true in the Middle East.
These figures also imply that Hamas is more likely to recruit current Fatah supporters than vice-versa.
There are hints here of what would happen in completely free elections in a future Palestinian state. They do not incline Israel—or anyone with good sense—to rush to support the creation of such a state, especially now that Fatah and Hamas are once again united."
Read all of Barry Rubin's analysis here:

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