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March 07, 2007

Was Palestinian Vote for Hamas Really a Vote for Clean Government?

Just over a year ago, Palestinians elected to be governed by Hamas. Most pundits and media reports accepted the explanation that the Palestinians were not voting for Hamas's extreme prescription for resolving the conflict with Israel — wiping out the Jewish state — but rather, were sending a message that the endemic corruption of the Fatah run Palestinian Authority was no longer tolerable. It was claimed that Hamas, while extreme ideologically, was free of the corruption, waste and nepotism that characterized Fatah.

A year in to Hamas's rule, a different picture has emerged. When asked if the Hamas government had done anything well in the past year, recently appointed finance minister Salam Fayyad, a professional economist who is not a member of Hamas, responded:

The state of public finance has suffered and suffered badly. There has been a reversal of many areas of reform. Transparency—there's been a major decline there. Extra-budgetary spending re-emerged. Getting a handle on what's been going on becomes more difficult. It's the job of the treasurer to know what's going on. None of this has happened. We need to fix the system in a hurry. (Newsweek, March 5, 2007)

Fayyad's statement, worded in a polite manner, reveals that many of the same issues of mismanagement that dogged the Fatah-dominated government persist in the new Hamas government.

Meanwhile, a recent opinion poll shows a substantial majority of Palestinians do not recognize Israel's right to exist, which puts them in agreement with Hamas's vision about the future of Israel.

All of this raises important questions: Should commentators and pundits who ascribed Hamas's victory merely to a desire for cleaner government have been more skeptical and open-minded about the motives of Palestinian voters? And in future elections, will they continue to stick by this explanation despite evidence to the contrary?

Posted by SS at March 7, 2007 10:33 AM


Take a look at a Palestinian survey taken after the 2006 elections for the Pal Legislative Council:
In particular, look at the following questions in the survey:

Q5: Reasons behind voting for a certain faction
Support for that faction 82.9%
Opposition to other faction/s 17.1%

(Thus, Palestinians were not protesting against Fatah per se. They really supported Hamas.)

Q10: Should Hamas maintain its position on the elimination of Israel?
Hamas should change its pollcies regarding Israel 75.2%
Hamas should not change its pollcies regarding Israel 24.8%

(Thus, a sizeable minority still want to destroy Israel.)

Q13d: Under Hamas peace negotiations will improve
Yes 46.9%
No 53.1%

(Thus, peace negotiations were not the highest priority in the election)

Q16: Hamas priorities as government
Combating corruption 39.7%
Reaching a peace agreement with Israel 8.7%
Solving the unemployment/poverty problem 16.5%
Resisting occupation 4.0%
Ending chaos in security 17.2%
Implementing Islamic law 2.8%
The refugee issue 6.2%
The wall 1.7%
Settlements 0.2%
Others 3.1%

(The most popular choices: corruption,poverty and chaotic security forces, all deal with internal issues needing reform. The least popular choices: Jewish settlements and the security barrier, only received a total of 1.9%. This should help bolster our support of the Judea/Samaria settlements and the security barrier.

Posted by: Roddy Frankel at March 7, 2007 08:27 PM

I think you missed the crucial point:

74.5% against Israel's right to exist.
63.1% for peace negotiations with Israel.

This seems a contradiction but it is not if you have a look at the preferred outcome of such "peace" negotiations:

70.4% for one state with equal rights for all citizens.

In other words: "peace" is to end Israel's existence and take over the state demographically. The only "progess" I can see is that the liberation of Palestine does not have to be by violence and blood exclusively. Obviously there are significant numbers of Palestinians who image that Isral might agree (possibly under external pressure) to end its existence.

Posted by: Ruth at March 8, 2007 02:35 AM

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