Poll: Palestinians Reject Hamas

Jerusalem, Nov. 28 – A new poll indicated that twice as many Palestinians support the Fatah political party over the extremism of Hamas and maintain hopes for the resumption of peace talks, a report said Monday.

The poll by the Jerusalem Media & Communications Centresuggested that Fatah, headed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, had twice the committed public support of Hamas, with 42.4 percent of respondents saying they would vote for Fatah compared to only 21.7% for Hamas.

Some 73% of Palestinians said they were optimistic about the future in general, and just under half (48.2%) were still optimistic about the reaching a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict with only 19.8% saying they oppose the peace process. Even under the currently stalemated conditions, 65.4% of Palestinians felt that the peace process is either still alive or passing through difficult times.

More than half (56.3%) of Palestinians oppose continuation of military operations against Israel and think it harms Palestinian national interests.

The poll of 1,200 people over the age of 18 was carried out in the West Bank and Gaza Strip before last week’s meeting in Cairo between Abbas and Khaled Mashaal, leader of Iran-backed Hamas. The two leaders said last week they would form a national unity government leading up to Palestinian elections in May.

However, Hamas officials revealed that the commitment to a joint government with Fatah had fallen through, the Washington Post reported. The two parties have been in conflict since a Hamas election victory in 2006 was followed by a bloody coup in which Hamas seized power from Fatah in Gaza. The report said by avoiding a unity government Abbas could continue receiving vital international funding, the flow of which was threatened by an official partnership with Hamas – considered a terrorist organization that donor countries refuse to deal with.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly called for the immediate resumption of peace talks without pre-conditions. The Middle East peace Quartet has also called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Fatah is boycotting the talks, while Hamas is ideologically committed to Israel’s destruction and refuses to negotiate for peace.

"States like Egypt are already losing control of their own territory, and Israel can expect increased cross-border attacks and terrorism,” said BESA director Prof. Efraim Inbar, who added that with the instability of the Arab Spring Israel had to invest more in defense so that “we'll be ready for challenges five years or more down the road."

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