Gazans Blame Hamas for Their Economic Miseries but Also Anticipate Victory Over Israel

November 1, 2018 | David Pollock
About the author: David Pollock is the Kaufman fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he directs the Fikra Forum blog and the Arabic website.

According to two recent opinion surveys conducted by respected pollsters, the people of the Gaza Strip are unhappy with Hamas’s policy of confrontation with Israel and would much prefer a cease-fire. Their opinions on other issues also display surprising moderation, as David Pollock writes:

[M]ost Gazans say they want direct dialogue with Israelis and would like Israeli companies to provide jobs for them inside that Hamas-ruled territory. Most also blame Hamas, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, or the UN—not Israel—for their severe economic woes. Moreover, remarkably, a plurality of Palestinians in Gaza say they want Hamas to change its rejectionist position and agree to make peace with Israel. . . .

More specifically, regarding the weekly Hamas-led border protests, just 36 percent of Gazans support this tactic, while 62 percent say they oppose it. Conversely, a formal cease-fire with Israel garners more support than opposition: 73 to 25 percent in one poll; 51 to 45 percent in the other. On the harder question [of whether] Hamas [should] “stop calling for Israel’s destruction, and instead accept a permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 borders,” one poll shows Gazans say yes by a margin of 53 to 45 percent; the other poll yields a slightly narrower margin of 48 to 44 percent. . . .

To be sure, none of this means that most Gazans like, trust, or [even] accept the lasting reality of Israel. In both polls, for instance, only about half say that negotiations with Israel have had “somewhat positive” results to date. Similarly, only about half say that a two-state solution should “end the conflict.” And slightly more than half . . . still anticipate that “eventually, the Palestinians will control almost all of Palestine”—either because “God is on their side,” or because “they will outnumber the Jews someday.”

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