Wednesday, March 19, 2008

And Now, The Bad News

A new poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians support the attack this month on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem that killed eight young men, most of them teenagers, an indication of the alarming level of Israeli-Palestinian tension in recent weeks.

The survey also shows unprecedented support for the shooting of rockets on Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip and for the end of the peace negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

The pollster, Khalil Shikaki, said he was shocked because the survey, taken last week, showed greater support for violence than any other he had conducted over the past 15 years in the Palestinian areas. Never before, he said, had a majority favored an end to negotiations or the shooting of rockets at Israel.

“There is real reason to be concerned,” Mr. Shikaki said in an interview at his West Bank office. His Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which conducts a survey every three months, is widely viewed as among the few independent and reliable gauges of Palestinian public opinion.

Here's from the poll:

Main Findings:

Findings indicate that a major shift, in Hamas’s favor, had occurred during the last three months with about 10% of the population shifting their attitudes and perceptions. The change included increased popularity of Hamas and its leadership, increased support for its positions and legitimacy, and greater satisfaction with its performance.

These changes might have been the result of several political developments starting with the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt during the last week of January and first week of February, followed by the Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip leading to a large number of Palestinian causalities and an increase in the number of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns such as Sderot and Ashkelon, the two suicide attacks in Dimona and Jerusalem leading to the death of nine Israelis, and ending with the failure of the Annapolis process in positively affecting daily life of Palestinians in the West Bank, in stopping Israeli settlement activities, or in producing progress in final status negotiations.

These developments managed to present Hamas as successful in breaking the siege and as a victim of Israeli attacks. These also presented Palestinian President Abbas and his Fateh faction as impotent, unable to change the bitter reality in the West Bank or ending Israeli occupation through diplomacy.

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