A new independent poll in the Palestinian Authority points to a calm before a storm of terror as Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza rejected PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in favor of de facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
The results of the survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research are a sharp reversal from three months ago, when respondents gave Abbas a 51-40 percent lead. Haniyeh now leads by three percentage points.
When given the option of choosing terrorist Marwan Barghouti as their leader, PA Arabs voted overwhelmingly for the coordinator of suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis. He is serving five life sentences in jail but enjoys freedoms that allow him to lead from his cell.
The Center for Policy noted two events that occurred between the last two surveys. One was a visit by Hamas' supreme leader Khaled Mashaal to Gaza to celebrate the terrorist organization’s self-proclaimed victory over Israel last month.
The second event was Abbas’ success in winning non-member observer status in the United Nations.
More notable is the unity declaration between Abbas, head of Fatah, and Hamas, which has been on Abbas’ blacklist since the bloody overthrow of Fatah more than five years ago and the ensuing split the Palestinian Authority into two political factions, one in Ramallah and one in Gaza.
The new poll indicates that despite Abbas’ political victory in the United Nations, most Arabs in the Palestinian Authority prefer to side with Hamas’ openly declared aim to destroy Israel.
The difference between him and Haniyeh is one of style, not of content.
Although mainstream media characterizes Abbas as pursuing the “peace process,” he has publicly praised suicide terrorists and increasingly has disseminated clear references to Palestine as encompassing all of the land of Israel, which align him with Hamas. The emblem on the paper on which his United Nations speech was written last month shows a map of Palestine, without the existence of Israel.
Abbas also remained silent during Hamas missile attacks on Israeli civilians last month.
In the first and only democratic elections in the Palestinian Authority seven years ago, Hamas’ popularity among Arabs in Judea and Samaria was clearly seen by its decisive majority in the parliament.
The latest poll shows that if legislative elections were held today, Hamas and Fatah would receive almost identical percentages, with Hamas holding a six-percentage point advantage in Gaza and Fatah having a four percentage point lead in Judea and Samaria. The results are a sharp reversal from three months ago.