It is widely said that a political campaign is war by other means.
Yet Hamas is using war with Israel to win a political campaign against its biggest rival: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
A new poll finds that Hamas is the new hero of the Palestinians.
Support for the terrorist organization is surging.
Meanwhile, support for Abbas is plunging – most want Abbas to leave office immediately.
And the majority of Palestinians now believe violence – not diplomacy – is the best way to confront Israel.
These are sobering findings of a new poll showing danger ahead for Israel and the peace process.
The professional poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between June 9 and 12. The total sample size was 1,200 adults interviewed face to face in 120 randomly selected locations. The margin of error was +/-3%.
MAHMOUD ABBAS’ MISCALCULATION
In January, Abbas announced three rounds of elections in 2021.
- Legislative elections were to be held on May 22.
- The presidential election was to be held on July 31.
- And elections for the National Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization were scheduled for August 31.
This was a miscalculation from the start.
The big question, as we wrote for ALL ARAB NEWS in January, was this: “Will the Hamas terrorist organization – which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and which seized full control of the Gaza Strip after Abbas badly mishandled the last round of elections – gain full political control of the West Bank as well?”
Abbas is currently serving the 16th year of his four-year term – having prevented new elections since 2005.
He clearly does not care about democracy, so why bother calling elections now?
By early May, Abbas realized his mistake.
His publicly stated reason for canceling the elections was that Israel would not allow Palestinians living in East Jerusalem to vote. In fact, everyone knows that Abbas could see the handwriting on the wall.
Polls taken earlier this year showed that Abbas and his Fatah party were deeply unpopular in the West Bank, and that support for Hamas was slowly growing.
But Hamas was enraged by Abbas’ decision.
It now seems clear that the rocket war it launched against Israel – along with the riots it fomented on the Temple Mount, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and in mixed Arab-Jewish cities across Israel – was, at its core, a political campaign waged against Abbas.
Hamas used the war as a massive fundraiser.
In this, it appears to have succeeded. The international community has pledged more than $1 billion to rebuild Gaza, and Hamas leaders believe that ultimately much of those funds will run through them helping to strengthen their financial standing, despite the devastation of their military infrastructure due to precision IDF strikes in the last war.
Hamas also used the war to boost its popularity and convince Palestinians that violence – not moderation and diplomacy – is the best way forward.
In this, too, it has wildly succeeded.
The new poll found that:
- An overwhelming majority of Palestinians (77%) believe that Hamas has come out the winner in its last war with Israel while only 1% think Israel came out the winner; 18% say no one came out a winner and 2% think both sides came out winners.
- If new presidential elections were held today and only two were nominated, Mahmoud Abbas and [Hamas leader] Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 27% and the latter 59% of the votes (compared to 46% for Haniyeh and 47% for Abbas three months ago).
- In the West Bank, Abbas would receive 25% of the votes (compared to 52% three months ago) and Haniyeh 59% (compared to 38% three months ago).
- If new legislative elections were held today with the same factions that participated in the 2006 elections, 73% say they would vote in such elections. Of those who would participate, 41% say they will vote for Hamas and 30% say they will vote for Fatah, 12% will vote for all other third parties combined and 17% are undecided. Three months ago, vote for Hamas stood at 30% and Fatah at 43%. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip stands today at 45% (compared to 36% three months ago) and for Fatah at 28% (compared to 32% three months ago). In the West Bank, votes for Hamas stand at 38% (compared to 25% three months ago) and Fatah at 32% (compared to 53% three months ago).
- 60% of Palestinians now support the return to “armed confrontations and intifada.”
- 94% say they are proud of the performance of the Gaza Strip during the May confrontation with Israel while 6% say they are not. When asked about the main reason, 39% said they are proud because Gaza delivered a military and rocket strike in defense of Jerusalem that demonstrated the weakness of the Israeli army; another 39% said they were proud because Gaza has brought the Palestinian cause back to forefront of Arab and international politics; and 13% said they are proud because Gaza has sacrificed and endured death and destruction while expressing patience and dignity in defense of Jerusalem.