Summary: Two weeks after the end of the war, a public opinion poll conducted by the JMCC, with support of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung East Jerusalem, aimed at studying the impact of the Gaza war and the UN initiative. Results indicate that there is a rise in the percentage of supporters of armed resistance among the Palestinian public. The majority of the public was also content with the decision of the Palestinian leadership to head to the UN. According to the poll, which included a sample of 1,199 people with a margin of error of +/- 3%, there was a noticeable rise in the popularity of President Mahmoud Abbas while there was a drop in the popularity of Fatah and an increase in Hamas’ popularity, which still remained lower than Fatah’s popularity. Similarly, there was a noticeable improvement in the public’s stance and satisfaction with the role of Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood while their stance remained negative towards the United States and Europe in general during the latest war on Gaza.
The latest Gaza war
The majority of those polled, (70.6%) considered Hamas the winning side during the recent war waged by Israel on Gaza. This constituted a noticeable rise in comparison to the Gaza war in 2009 when 46.7% said that Hamas was the winning side in the war (JMCC poll from January 2009). In comparison, 21.9% said neither Hamas nor Israel were the winning sides in the 2012 war in comparison to 37.4% who said the same thing in January 2009. Furthermore, 87.3% said Israel would have waged a war on Gaza in all cases while only 8.2% said the war could have been avoided by the Palestinians. 79.4% said Israel targeted civilians during the war while only 14.8% said Hamas was hiding among civilians during the 2012 war.
The war and international and local positions
Regarding the satisfaction of the public with the level of solidarity in general during the Gaza war, the poll showed a discrepancy in people’s opinions in this regard. Satisfaction with Fatah in this poll was 78.3% and 75.5% with President Mahmoud Abbas. However, upon comparison between the percentage of satisfaction with the level of solidarity between the recent war and the war in 2009, there was a rise in the level of satisfaction with the performance of the West Bank, standing at 85.1% while it was 58.7% in a poll conducted in January 2009. Satisfaction with Egypt was 90.1%, while in 2009 it was 35.1%. Satisfaction with the Muslim Brotherhood was 72.9% in the 2012 poll while it was 57.6% in the 2009 poll. Moreover, 76.7% of respondents showed satisfaction with Turkey in the 2012 poll while it stood at 89.6% in 2009. Furthermore, there is still a rise in the dissatisfaction with the performance of Western countries and international organizations. Dissatisfaction ranged from 93.4% with the US, 83.3% with Britain and 82.5% with Germany to 58.9% with the UN and 58.9% with the EU.
The resistance and rockets
There was a rise in the percentage of those who considered the locally-made rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli regions helpful, from 25.4% in April 2011 to 74% in December 2012, while the percentage of those who believe the rockets were harmful dropped from 38.6% in April 2011 to 9.7% in this 2012 poll. At the same time, there was a rise in the percentage of those who support the resumption of military operations against Israeli targets as an appropriate response in the current political situation, from 29.3% in January 2011 to 50.9% in the current December 2012 poll. Likewise, there was a drop in opponents to military operations who believe they are harmful to Palestinian interests from 56.3% to 42% in the same time period. The poll also showed a rise in supporters of armed resistance among the Palestinian public from 25.2% in November 2012 to 32.6% in this December 2012 poll. Nonetheless, an overwhelming majority of 62.3% peaceful negotiations and non-violent resistance as the best methods to achieve an end to the occupation.
The United Nations
Regarding the Palestinian leadership heading to the UN and the status upgrade of Palestine’s representation, 74.9% said this was a good move that served Palestinian national interests while 5.8% only said it was a bad move that harmed Palestinian national interests. Furthermore, 74.6% expressed their satisfaction with the leadership’s decision to take this step. In terms of how the UN bid influenced public opinion on Fatah, 64.4% said it had a positive impact in comparison to 5.1% that said it had a negative impact and 27.9% that said it did not have either a negative or positive impact. Furthermore, 86.2% of those polled said going to the UN and Palestine obtaining a non-member state status confirms the need to hold elections in order to reform the PLO compared to 8.1% who said the opposite.
Parties and leaderships and their popularity
The poll showed a large rise in the public’s trust in President Mahmoud Abbas from 17.9% in April 2011 to 30.1% in December 2012. There was also a slight rise in the public’s trust in Ismail Haniyeh from 11.4% to 17.3%. At the same time, there was a drop in the people’s trust in Fatah from 39.2% in the June 2011 poll to 34.9% in the December 2012 poll as opposed to a rise in the public’s trust in Hamas from 16.6% to 26% in the same time period.
A question was also posed if respondents would vote for Fatah, Hamas or other parties in Legislative Council elections if they were held today. 38.5% said they would vote for Fatah while 28.2% said they would vote for Hamas. 43% said they would vote for President Mahmoud Abbas for the Palestinian presidency if he ran against Ismail Haniyeh, for whom 29.4% said they would vote in such elections.