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Palestinian Poll Shows 'No Confidence' In Many Quarters

A Palestinian poll had a few very interesting findings (insofar as any poll can be judged a proper reflection of any population). While the overall gist is that Palestinians essentially equally blame Hamas and Fatah for the recent upheaval, there were a couple of points that leaped from the page.

The survey, conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), found that while 75 percent want early presidential and parliamentary elections, 40 percent said they would not participate if the race was between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh. Abbas would slightly edge out Hanyieh with 49 percent of the vote compared to Hanyieh’s 42 percent. The numbers change dramatically if imprisoned Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi replaced Abbas in the race. The percentage of voter nonparticipation decreases to 31 percent and 59 percent of West Bank respondents said they would vote for Barghouthi compared to 35 percent for Haniyeh.

First, I have long been one who, admittedly observing from a distance, believes that the Palestinian people are not well represented by their leaders on either side, and that if they had some semblance of prosperity and productivity they might just sideline both groups in order to preserve such prosperity. It's human nature. And the 40% non-participation number, in my opinion, reflects this possibility.

But then that 'human nature' theory also runs into trouble when the popular support for Barghouti comes into play. Just who is Marwan Barghouti? He is the founder of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group. See here, here and here.

But perhaps the most interesting information found within the poll comes regarding how the Palestinians view the Palestinian Authority itself, with nearly half wishing it dissolved completely. But the issue of a confederacy within a Jordanian frame comes up prominently as an alternative.

The dissolution of the PA was not an option for 49 percent of respondents while 41 percent would welcome such a step. Among those in favor of dissolving the PA, 26 percent want the Palestinian territories placed under an international trusteeship. Forty-two percent support a confederation with Jordan. However, 17 percent of those said a confederation with Jordan should be established only after a Palestinian state was created.

Now that is something to chew on. Nearly 20% of Palestinians polled want a confederation with Jordan.

Update: In haste, I failed to mention that this popular support for Barghouti to replace Abbas just might have something to do with why, when the PA made a prisoner release request to Israel late last week, Barghouti was not among them.

In reference to these rumors, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office told Ynet that no negotiations were taking place regarding the release of prisoners. State sources said they expected progress of the issue of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, via Egyptian mediation, as a prerequisite for discussing the issue of Palestinian prisoners.

Sources in the Palestinian Authority said they had not requested the release of senior prisoners such as Marwan Barghouti, but rather prisoners who could help Fatah in their struggle against Hamas in the West Bank and, primarily, promote an atmosphere of support for the new PA government.

Wink, wink. Internal politics just might have something to do with it. The article concludes in error if one is to consider this context.

From a political perspective, the release of Fatah-affiliated could greatly increase the emergency government's popularity. Barghouti, for example, received support for 59 percent of respondents in a recent poll that pitted him against former PA prime minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

His popularity is precisely why he will remain in prison. It's not how he polls against Haniyeh, but rather how he polls against Abbas. Fatah leadership (read: Abbas) simply cannot "increase the emergency government's popularity" at the cost of the sitting president.

2 Comments

That was very enlightening! What the Palestinians need is a Mohandras Ghandi or a Nelson Mandela instead they get an Idi Amin or a Robert Mugabe!

Barghouti is a terrorist and has blood on his hands, but he is a charismatic terrorist and thus his popularity. However, the entanglement of his release with politics is even more fascinating. Olmert could play a game here and threaten Abbas with Bargouti's release for some concessions----ya think??!!

Now there's a thought.

Oh, the irony would be thick...