New York – A Bir Zeit University poll, carried out earlier this month and released in recent days, shows that nearly two-thirds of Palestinians support the non-recognition policy towards Israel pursued by the Hamas/Palestinian Authority (PA) government. Specifically, the poll posed 1,200 Palestinians a choice between Hamas rejecting recognizing Israel or its recognizing Israel and thus receiving funding from the international community. Despite being a question likely to encourage the latter response, 61 percent opposed Hamas recognizing Israel, while only 31 percent supported it doing so. Other questions posed in the poll but not widely reported in the international media also showed strong support for Hamas, including approval of the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya (57 percent as against 48 percent approval for PA president Mahmoud Abbas) (Bir Zeit University poll #27, 31 May — June 2).
According Barry Rubin, a leading Middle East scholar and Director of the prestigious Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Interdisciplinary Center University in Herzaliya, Israel, this poll demonstrates that a large majority of Palestinians … oppose recognition of Israel or even a real two-state solution (Muslim World Today, June 16).
ZOA National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, We see from this major poll, even with questions that might be expected to maximize Palestinian preference for recognition of Israel, that most Palestinians frankly reject that path and refuse to accept its legitimacy as a Jewish state. It is also noteworthy that even when Palestinians are raising a major international outcry against the withholding of direct funding to the PA, non-acceptance of Israel trumps obtaining the resumption of international funding.
It is also important to note that when the media focus on another poll finding — that 77 percent of Palestinian support Abbas referendum plan — the findings on non-recognition reveal that the Abbas plan enjoys high levels of Palestinian support precisely because it is understood by Palestinians as a way of avoiding recognizing Israel and the need to end terrorism or fulfill other Palestinian commitments under the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan. These findings therefore invalidate the argument that Palestinians voted for Hamas purely for reasons other than its explicit support for eliminating Israel and terrorism and therefore deserve international funding. As this poll shows, most Palestinians support Hamas approach.