New Poll Shows Broad Palestinian Support for Elections, Deep Distrust in Leadership

A new public poll released Tuesday found that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have no faith in their political leadership and are desperate for elections.

Only a small percentage of Palestinians surveyed, about 11%, said that they trust Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah. The leader of Hamas, Ismael Haniyeh, received an approval rate of only 6%.

The poll, conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center and based on the responses of 1,200 people, showed that 87% of those surveyed demand the holding of legislative and presidential elections. Palestinians expressed low levels of trust in the fairness of elections. 45% of the respondents said they feared that elections could be rigged.

89.6% of those surveyed said that national reconciliation was important or very important, opposed to 8.6% who said it was not important. Only 21.2% blamed Israel for the persisting division, while 32.2% blamed both Hamas and Fatah together. The PA and Hamas have engaged in a number of failed reconciliation efforts, the most recent of which was an Egyptian-brokered agreement signed in October 2017.

Abbas was elected to a four-year term as president in 2005. The Palestinian Authority has not held elections since. Abbas’ refusal to establish any sort of chain of succession is one area where the Palestinians have failed to establish the institutions needed for effective statehood.

In 2007, a year after winning Palestinian legislative elections, Hamas launched a coup, chasing most Fatah forces from Gaza. The ongoing crackdown on peaceful protesters and journalists in Gaza reflects the insecurity of their ruling authorities.

The poll also showed that 59.3% of participants support the continued boycott of the United States by the Palestinian leadership, opposed to 30.3% who said they preferred the Palestinian leadership to be involved in diplomatic relations with the Trump administration.

[Photo: US Department of State / PublicDomainFiles]