I never believed Hezbollah when it pronounced itself the victor in its war with Israel, but I was dubious about whether Israel itself had won. In the weeks since the ceasefire, however, I’ve been reading more and more articles claiming that Israel did achieve a great deal and that Hezbollah experienced some major setbacks in men and materiels. It seems as though the pro-Israel dominos are starting to fall in other directions as well. The Palestinians have appearently started to realize that, with Israel as a neighbor, it may not be such a good idea to have the most radical guerillas in charge. The same citizens who overwhelming voted Hamas into office, are having second thoughts:
There appears to be a change in the Palestinian political balance of power: A survey conducted by the an-Najah National University in Nablus, published Sunday evening, shows that if Palestinian elections were to take place today, the Fatah movement would solidly defeat Hamas.
Of 1,360 Palestinians polled, 38 percent would support a Fatah candidate in a theoretical presidential election, compared to 17.4 percent who would vote for a Hamas candidate.
Fatah would also sweep the board in general elections, with 35 percent of those polled indicating that they would vote for Fatah compared to only 20 percent would vote for Hamas.
This is a significant flip from the situation a year and a half ago, when Hamas beat Fatah by almost a 2:1 ratio in the January 2006 elections. Nonetheless, 59 percent of Palestinians polled stated that advancing the elections would be tantamount to a political revolution against the Hamas government, as opposed to 33.3 percent who disagreed.
The general word on the street regarding Israel has not changed: 60.3 percent of Palestinians still support terror attacks in Israel, while only 33 percent oppose them. 52.5 percent support launching rockets at Israel, compared to 42.5 percent who do not. When asked if rocket launchings negatively impact Palestinian issues, the results showed a tie.
Palestinians seem to hang their hopes on a unity government. Regarding the financial situation, 60 to 80 percent fear economic deterioration and feel that a unity government constitutes a solution to the problem.
I recognize that the Palestinians are not rejecting Hamas because they love Israel. Rather, they have an inchoate sense that anything has to be better than the situation in which they now find themselves. It says a lot for the violence and anarchy that Hamas has visited on the Palestinians that they believe the corrupt and ineffective Fatah would be a better option. What they haven’t realized yet, or seem incapable of recognizing, is that Fatah was better because, ineffectual as it was, it nevertheless reduced the level of violence against Israel — and with that reduction came an upswing in the minimal quality of life Palestinians currently “enjoy.”