Hamas's popularity has skyrocketed in the wake of Operation Protective Edge to the point where its deputy political bureau chief, Ismail Haniyeh, would win the presidency of the Palestinian Authority if elections were held today, according to a new survey of West Bank and Gaza residents.
The poll, which was overseen by Dr. Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, indicates that Haniyeh would attract 61 percent support among prospective Palestinian voters, easily outpacing incumbent Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah (32 percent).
In the Gaza Strip, Haniyeh has the support of 53 percent of residents, while in the West Bank the figure jumps to 66 percent.
Hamas's popularity in the West Bank is at an all-time high following the 50-day long military confrontation with Israel.
According to Shikaki's poll, if the race were a three-way contest between Haniyeh, Abbas, and jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti, Haniyeh would still emerge as the winner with 48 percent. Barghouti garners 29 percent support, whereas Abbas finishes a distant third with just 19 percent.
The poll also finds that nearly 8 in 10 Palestinians believe Hamas defeated Israel in the recent round of fighting. In addition, the survey indicates that a majority of Palestinians would support copying Hamas's strategy of launching rockets into Israeli towns in the West Bank as well. Nonetheless, 63 percent of Palestinians believe the cease-fire serves national interests.
In elections for the Palestinian parliament, Hamas would win 48 percent of the seats, while Fatah would take just 29 percent. Smaller Palestinian factions would win the remaining 19 percent.
When asked about their views of the two-state solution, 51 percent of Palestinians said they were opposed, while 49 percent said they supported it.
A majority – 53 percent – said it supported armed struggle against Israel, while just 20 percent said nonviolence was the best way to achieve statehood.
Nearly nine in 10 Palestinians support renewed rocket fire against Israel if the Gaza blockade remains. Half of the respondents said they "understood" the strategy of launching rockets at Israel from civilian, built-up urban areas, while just 30 percent believe that Hamas fired rockets from these sites.
The poll surveyed 1,270 people.