August 28, 2014 | Policy Brief

Gaza Polls Show Abbas Popularity

August 28, 2014 | Policy Brief

Gaza Polls Show Abbas Popularity

In a recent poll in Gaza, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas garnered a favorability of 54 percent. The poll, taken in the days leading up to Monday’s announcement of a long-term ceasefire, was consistent with past polls. Abbas has, since the Hamas takeover in 2007, polled favorably in Gaza. In fact, he consistently polls higher than his Hamas counterpart, Ismail Haniyeh, except in the months directly following a major conflict with Israel. In most other times, Abbas enjoys the majority of support among Gazans. 

In the months that followed the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSPSR) polled Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and found that Abbas would win in a head-to-head election (59 percent to 36 percent). As the rift between Hamas-run Gaza and the PA’s West Bank widened, the gap narrowed. 

In December of 2008, more than one year after the Hamas coup, a poll in Gaza showed that 46 percent viewed Abbas favorably while 42 percent viewed Haniyeh favorably. A few weeks later, Operation Cast Lead erupted, and in the poll that came out in March of 2009, the results showed that Haniyeh enjoyed more support at 47 percent, while Abbas had dropped to 45 percent. Within a few months, however, Abbas had rebounded to 53 percent while Haniyeh had fallen to 42 percent. 

This reveals a consistent trend in Palestinian polling. In the months directly following a conflict with Israel, Palestinians in Gaza are more disposed to support Haniyeh and Hamas. However, Palestinians typically revert back to supporting Abbas shortly thereafter. 

After Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, this trend continued. In December 2012, a month after the conflict, 52 percent of Gazans supported Haniyeh while 44 percent supported Abbas. By March of 2013, those numbers had flipped again, with 53percent supporting Abbas and 44percent supporting Haniyeh. 



In the wake of the recent Gaza war, this trend looks poised to continue. In the last poll of Palestinians in Gaza before the conflict began, 52% supported Abbas while 46% supported Haniyeh. In the polls that will come out in the next few months, we can expect to see Haniyeh enjoy a boost in the polls while Abbas dips. But Abbas will almost certainly gain ground again, as he has in the past. 

One wild card could be the presence of the Palestinian Authority on the Gaza border and its role in Gaza’s reconstruction, as stipulated in the terms of the ceasefire. Part of what has recently fueled Abbas’s popularity in Gaza is that Gazans had not lived under his rule since 2007. Abbas now runs the risk of being blamed for a slow reconstruction process or fewer benefits than Gazans believe are afforded to them under the terms of the ceasefire.  

Grant Rumley is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. @Grant_Rumley


Palestinian Politics