The results of this poll cast serious doubt on claims that the recent Palestinian election was mostly about the failure of the ruling party to provide services and eschew corruption, and not mostly about the desire to terrorize Israel. The poll was conducted by FAFO, a Norwegian-based NGO not known for sympathy toward Israel or antipathy towards the Palestinian. We’ve linked to it before and I’m not sure why those who have tried to present a benign explanation for the election haven’t mentioned it, though I have my suspicions. Here are some of the key results:
40 percent viewed the release of Palestinian prisoners as the most pressing issue; 19 percent said the most pressing issue was job creation; 15 percent said it was the economy generally; 11 percent said it was resumption of the peace process.
72 percent thought that the creation of Sharon’s Kadima party would hamper the peace process.
67 percent said that the resumption of attacks against Israel is a legitimate response to the current political situation.
50 percent favored suicide bombings directed at Israeli civilians.
65 percent supported al Qaeda attacks against the west.
58 percent didn’t view Hamas as divided into a conservative and a liberal faction.
The poll did not show widespread dissatisfaction with the ruling party. 58 percent were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with its overall performance. 51 percent thought the party’s performance was better than it had been a year ago and only 16 percent thought it was worse. On the other hand, only 38 percent thought it had been successful against corruption. Unfortunately, the pollsters didn’t ask about satisfaction with respect to attacking Israelis.
The poll suggests that economic and local service issues are not overriding concerns for Palestinians, and that pursuing peace with Israel is of little interest. On the other hand, attacks against Israel and against the west enjoy massive support. It’s difficult not think that Hamas’s popularity stems mainly from its status as the party that most strongly and unambiguously supports and sponsors such attacks.
UPDATE: Here’s Charles Krauthammer’s analysis of the election, which he sees as “deeply clarifying and ultimately cleansing.”