Hamas’ popularity has increased dramatically, a Palestinian public opinion poll found.
More Palestinians backed the Islamist group and its leaders, supported their positions and legitimacy, and expressed satisfaction with their performance, according to a poll conducted recently by Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. The center conducts a survey every three months.
Pollster Khalil Shikaki told The New York Times Wednesday that the survey showed greater support for violence than any he had conducted among Palestinians over the past 15 years.
The gap in popularity between the ruling Fatah party and Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, decreased since the last poll from 18 percentage points to 7. If new parliamentary elections were to take place today, Hamas would receive 35 percent of the vote and Fatah 42 percent, with 11 percent undecided. In December, Hamas had 31 percent and Fatah 49 percent, with a similar number undecided.
If new presidential elections were to be held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would receive 47 percent of the vote and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 46 percent, the poll found. Three months ago, Haniyeh had 37 percent and Abbas 56 percent. Haniyeh’s popularity is at its highest since Hamas’ electoral victory in January 2006.
On violence, the survey found a large majority of Palestinians supported the March 6 attack on the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, which killed eight students, and shooting rockets at southern Israeli towns.
A large majority also wanted to see an end to the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
A total of 1,270 Palestinian adults were interviewed face to face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between March 13 and 15, a week after the yeshiva attack and more than two weeks after Israel’s incursion into Gaza. The margin of error is 3 percent.