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New survey results show that violence is not a popular option among Palestinians and that Hamas is not benefiting from the current troubles, giving U.S. policymakers some breathing room to concentrate on more urgent crises in Iraq and Syria while backing practical steps to cool tensions.
BUT THE PUBLIC WANTS "POPULAR RESISTANCE," NOT VIOLENCE
Despite continuing tensions over the June 12 kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and Israel's resulting intensive searches and arrests, the Palestinian public is not turning toward large-scale violence. Rather, on tactical questions of relations with Israel, respondents broadly supported a nonviolent approach. The survey did not ask specifically about the latest kidnapping, which does appear fairly popular among Palestinians judging from traditional and social media content and anecdotal evidence.
In this survey, when asked whether Hamas "should maintain a ceasefire with Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank," a majority (56%) of West Bank respondents and a remarkable 70% of Gazans said yes. Similarly, asked if Hamas should accept Abbas's position that the new unity government renounce violence against Israel, West Bankers were evenly divided, but a majority (57%) of Gazans answered in the affirmative.
Nevertheless, "popular resistance against the occupation" -- such as demonstrations, strikes, marches, mass refusals to cooperate with Israel, and the like -- was seen as having a positive impact by most respondents in both territories: 62% in the West Bank and 73% in Gaza. And in the week since the survey was completed, Israel's shooting of several Palestinians and arrest of hundreds more in the course of searching for the kidnap victims may be turning the Palestinian public in a more actively hostile direction.
Both the kidnapping and a Palestinian hunger strike in Israeli jails have also maintained public attention on the prisoner issue. Asked what Israel could do "to convince Palestinians that it really wants peace," a large plurality picked "release more Palestinian prisoners." That option far outranked the others, each in the 15-20% range: "share Jerusalem as a joint capital," "stop building in settlements beyond the security barrier," or "grant Palestinians greater freedom of movement and crack down on settler attacks."
HAMAS IS NOT GAINING POLITICAL GROUND FROM THE CRISIS
Most striking, and contrary to common misperception, Hamas is not gaining politically from the kidnapping. Asked who should be the president of Palestine in the next two years, a solid plurality in both the West Bank and Gaza named Abbas (30%) or other Fatah-affiliated leaders: Marwan Barghouti (12%), Muhammad Dahlan (10%), Rami Hamdallah (6%), Mustafa Barghouti (4%), Salam Fayyad (2%), or Mahmoud al-Aloul (1%). These findings strongly suggest that the Palestinian public as a whole has little or no desire to carry out any threats to "dissolve" the Palestinian Authority.
In stark contrast, Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashal rated a combined total of just 9% support in the West Bank and 15% in Gaza. Another intriguing finding is that Dahlan has significant popular support among Gazans, at 20%. Also notable is that not one of the other old-guard Fatah figures, such as Abu Ala, Nabil Shaath, or Jibril Rajoub, attracted even 1% support in either the West Bank or Gaza.
I don't wish to argue with you because I can see that your mind is made up. However, it is a fact that while 700,000 people who fled the area due to warnings from arab militia and have not been allowed to return, there were also 1.25 million jews who were expelled from arab countries. The expelled jews, who also lost their property, are never heard from anymore. Could it be because they went ahead and re-built their lives?
And those arab countries who expelled 1.25 million jews couldn't make room to absorb 700 refugees from the state of Isreal so that they could also rebuild their lives?
Just saying! 60 years is a long long time to just "wait" for the jews to be driven into the sea.
Elie Wiesel, probably knowing better than most, expressed his disgust with Hamas' manipulation of western media and TV by essentially following a program of:
Here's a reality check: yes. Hamas will deny using children as human shields.