According to the most recent polls, more Palestinians would prefer to be ruled by Hamas than by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party. But perhaps the more interesting datum is that 44 percent of those surveyed do not think either group “best represents the Palestinian interest.” Shaul Bartal assesses the situation:
The largest party in Palestinian politics is an assortment of new local organizations such as the Lion’s Den and local battalions in Nablus, Jenin, and elsewhere in the West Bank. These local organizations do not see themselves as committed to a specific organization. What unites them is the war against Israel.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is seen in the eyes of a large part of the Palestinian public as a corrupt governmental authority that colludes with Israel. The way to gain legitimacy among the public is through struggle and resistance. A whopping 58 percent of the public support a return to an armed intifada. [Therefore], it is little wonder that support for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is at an unprecedented low, with 74 percent of the Palestinian public believing the two-state solution is no longer a relevant option.
What is relevant? Violent resistance. Hamas is increasing its pressure on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. . . . At this stage, it appears that Hamas’s game plan is to destabilize the West Bank through increased violence, increase its popularity in that area in the process, and subsequently take control of the PA’s power centers. The continuation of this explosive situation may well lead to the disintegration of the PA and a different government situation that Israel will have to deal with in the West Bank.