The Times of Israel has reported that the Arab World Research and Development (AWRAD) has conducted a survey “set out to examine political opinions among Palestinians following Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza and Mahmoud Abbas’s successful UN nonmember statehood bid.” While the vast majority of Palestinians viewed both as positive developments, an overwhelming 88% of the Palestinian population believes that the results of Operation Pillar of Defense proved that “armed struggle is the best means of achieving Palestinian independence.”

According to Al Sharq Al Aswat, “for the first time since 2006, some 40 percent of those polled said they prefer Hamas’s approach in dealing with the Palestine issue, while 33 percent preferred Fatah’s approach, and 27 percent had no preference.” Thus, while 85 percent of the Palestinians consider the UN vote for Palestine as a non-member observer state in the United Nations a victory for the Palestinian cause, 43 percent of them nevertheless believe that this step will not lead to real changes on the ground. Yet while many Palestinians recognize that unilateral moves at the UN won’t grant them a state in reality, only 43 percent of Palestinians support negotiating with Israel, a position that was not held by most Palestinians as early as May 2012.

Hillel Frisch, an expert on Palestinian politics at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University, told the Times of Israel that he was not surprised with the results of this poll, given that the Palestinians perceived Operation Pillar of Defense as a victory for the Palestinian people and that Israel has decided to respond to Palestinian unilateral attempts by withholding PA tax money. Frisch reported, “Palestinians are becoming more frustrated and losing hope in negotiations. They may turn to Hamas not because it’s Hamas, but because it’s the movement that opposes negotiations with Israel.”

Yet interestingly, 40 percent of Gazans prefer Fatah to Hamas, while 37 percent of Gazans support Hamas and more Gazans are supportive of having negotiations with Israel than West Bank Palestinians are. As Elliot Abrams wrote on the Council on Foreign Relations website, “Palestinians have joked for years that West Bankers living under Fatah oppose Fatah, while those living in Gaza under Hamas rule oppose Hamas. Familiarity breeds contempt, it seems, or at least suppresses support.

This poll also asserted that 50 percent of the Palestinian population is opposed to a two-state solution, while only 47 percent of Palestinians support a two-state solution. Yet in 2011, a survey conducted jointly by the Israel Project and the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that these figures are even lower in regards to a two-states for two peoples solution, of which only 34 percent of Palestinians supported it then while 61 percent rejected it. In that poll, when the fate of Jerusalem was mentioned, 92 percent said it should be the capital of Palestine, 1 percent said the capital of Israel, 3 percent the capital of both, and 4 percent a neutral international city.

Yet, that poll’s results were even worse when it came to Palestinian perceptions of the Jewish people. The Jerusalem Post reported, “72 percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem […] and 53 percent were in favor of teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools. When given a quote from the Hamas Charter about the need for battalions from the Arab and Islamic world to defeat the Jews, 80 percent agreed. 73 percent agreed with a quote from the charter (and a hadith, or tradition ascribed to the prophet Muhammad) about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees.”

By Rachel Avraham