Polls, Palestinians and Politics

Larry Levin

The Jerusalem Post reported on a poll of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank that had some interesting results.
The poll was by the Arab World for Research and Development, an institute located in Ramallah which also collaborated with a Hebrew University team on polling both Israelis and Palestinians.
The joint Israeli-Palestinian poll wasn’t too surprising…most had doubts over the prospects for peace, the creation of two states, etc. But the Palestinian poll might undercut some assumptions:
*Two-thirds believe Hamas should continue the ceasefire with Israel beyond September, and should not start using missiles against targets in Israel.
*However, nearly half oppose direct talks with Israel.

*Half would vote for Salam Fayyad as Palestinian prime minister, with less than a quarter in support of  Hamas leadership. And Hamas only receives a third of the vote when asked which party is preferred in the Palestinian Parliament.

*A large majority of Palestinians tab jobs and anti-poverty measures as the most important issues to Palestinians.

If you’re a half empty kinda person, the results may mean nothing to you. But if you’re an optimist, you can glean some useful information from the data. 
For one thing, the preference of Fatah over Hamas seems consistent with the desire for economic development. Clearly the West Bank has it all over Gaza in its steps toward building a healthy financial infrastructure.
For another, having two thirds of the respondents saying that lobbing missiles into Israel is a bad thing is, to me, a good thing. The true cynic (as was one commented on the JPost website) will say, gee, that means one of three still WANTS to lob missiles. But the goal, in my opinion, is to construct a narrative that can have people believing in at least the prospect of peace. And these poll results allow that kind of bridge-building.
For the Post stories on this poll and the joint Israeli-Palestinian poll: