After Gaza war, poll finds support for Hamas rises

 

Associated Press

The popularity of the Hamas militant group among Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has spiked significantly following the 50-day war with Israel, according to an opinion poll released Tuesday.

The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and headed by leading Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki, indicates that 61 percent of Palestinians would choose the Islamic militant group's leader, Ismail Haniyeh, for president if Palestinian presidential elections were held today.

Only 32 percent would vote for current President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas' rival, the survey suggested.

The support for Haniyeh marks a stark increase from a poll in June, conducted by the same pollster, which found only 41 percent of Palestinians backed the Hamas figure. At the time, Abbas had 53 percent support.

The poll also suggests a majority of Palestinians — 72 percent — support adopting Hamas' armed approach in the West Bank.

The research center said it is the first time in eight years that a majority of Palestinians has voiced such support for the Hamas leader. But, it said, Hamas' popularity might fall in coming months, as it did following previous Israel-Hamas conflicts.

Polling started on the last day of the war, on Aug. 26, and continued during the first four days of the cease-fire, the research center said.

The poll said 79 percent of respondents believe Hamas won the war, and 86 percent support the renewal of rocket fire on Israel if a blockade on Gaza is not lifted, one of Hamas' main demands.

But 25 percent said armed groups in the Gaza Strip should give up their weapons after the blockade ends and elections are held.

The latest poll, and the poll in June, both surveyed 1,270 Palestinians and had a margin of error of 3 percent.

Also Tuesday, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid criticized Israel's expropriation of West Bank land announced this week, calling for "a more reasoned approach" in Israeli diplomacy following Israel's military operation in Gaza.

The expropriation of about 1,000 acres of West Bank land could help clear the way for new Jewish settlement construction. Lapid said such moves create "redundant arguments with the United States and the world" and criticized the timing of the announcement following the Gaza war. Israel's Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, also criticized the move this week.

Other leading Israeli Cabinet ministers have criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conduct in the recently concluded war, with many saying he did not go far enough to neutralize Hamas's fighting ability.

The land announcement drew strong criticism from around the world, with the U.S., EU, Ireland, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — which represents 57 Muslim countries — and others condemning it.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday said the U.S. is "deeply concerned" about the land declaration.

"We are also very concerned by reports that new settlement and East Jerusalem construction or planning announcements may be issued at any time, including for the sensitive area of Giv'at Hamatos in East Jerusalem," Psaki said.

"These steps are contrary to Israel's stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians, and it would send a very troubling message if they proceed," she said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a strong rebuke to Israel over the decision and called for it to be revised.

"The decision, should it remain, sends a wrong signal at the wrong time," he said.

Netanyahu has spoken vaguely about a new "diplomatic horizon" that has emerged following the 50-day Israel-Hamas war. He has given few details on what he means.

But Netanyahu has said that he is not willing to renew peace talks with Abbas unless the Palestinian leader distances himself from Hamas militants. Hamas and Abbas' Palestinian Authority recently agreed to a unity deal that saw the formation of a government backed by both factions.

"He has to choose," Netanyahu told Israeli Channel Two in a weekend interview. "It's either yes to Hamas or no to Hamas."

Later Tuesday, the Israeli military said a Palestinian tried to run over Israeli soldiers and civilians, injuring one person, near Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank. It said soldiers opened fire on the vehicle, injuring the driver and a passenger.

Read more World Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  • Belfast officer who oversaw Adams arrest promoted

    Rival factions in Northern Ireland's unity government are accusing each other of bias after a policeman who oversaw the arrest of Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams was promoted to the force's second-highest post.

  •  
FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2013 file photo, Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, center, attends the opening of a picnic park in Suva, Fiji. Thousands of Fijians are eagerly awaiting their first chance to vote in nearly eight years Wednesday in an election that promises to finally restore democracy to the South Pacific nation of 900,000. Yet plenty of questions remain about how far military ruler Bainimarama has tilted the outcome in his favor. Bainimarama is running as a candidate and polls indicate his party is by far the most popular of the seven registered.

    Fijians go to polls after 8 years of military rule

    Thousands of Fijians are awaiting their first chance to vote in eight years Wednesday in an election that promises to finally restore democracy to the South Pacific nation of 900,000.

  •  
This undated 2009 photo shows journalist Lynne O'Donnell in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. O’Donnell, a foreign correspondent who has covered major stories throughout the Middle East and Asia for two decades, has been named Kabul bureau chief for The Associated Press, leading the agency’s coverage of Afghanistan at a time of transition and turmoil. The appointment was announced on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 by Ian Phillips, AP’s Middle East news director, and Dan Perry, the regional editor for text.

    AP names Lynne O'Donnell Kabul bureau chief

    Lynne O'Donnell, a foreign correspondent who has covered major stories throughout the Middle East and Asia for two decades, has been named Kabul bureau chief for The Associated Press, leading the agency's coverage of Afghanistan at a time of transition and turmoil.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category