The recent war in Lebanon increased support for Hizbullah among the Palestinian population in the territories, as well as among Israeli Arabs, who believe that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah is looking out for their wellbeing.
The boosted support for Hizbullah was revealed in a public opinion poll carried out jointly by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem’s Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research based in Ramallah.
According to the survey, which was carried out after the end of fighting in Lebanon, a solid 65 percent majority of the Palestinian public believes terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank should adopt Hizbullah’s tactics and shell Israeli towns with rockets. Only 35 percent were opposed to such a move.
The survey noted that these numbers were parallel to Hizbullah support measured in June 2000, after the IDF’s withdrawal from south Lebanon. At the time, 65 percent of Palestinians were supportive and 27 percent opposed. However, it should be noted that in 2000 the term “Hizbullah tactics” had different implications – and rather referred to guerilla warfare against army forces.
The war had no effect on Palestinian support for suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians, and a majority of Palestinians continued to support them.
According to the present poll’s findings, 57 percent of Palestinians supported suicide bomb attacks, while a similar survey in March 2006 found 56 percent support.
The tactic of kidnapping of Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips won the support of three-fourths of Palestinians, while only 23 percent opposed.
'Nasrallah cares about Arab citizens'
The survey also sought to compare the views of the Jewish and Arab public in Israel regarding the war in Lebanon, against the backdrop of claims during the war and its aftermath that Israeli Arabs sympathize with Hizbullah and its objectives.
While only 24 percent of Jewish respondents said they believe that Nasrallah is concerned about the fate of Israel's Arabs, 70 percent of Israeli-Arabs who participated in the poll said they think the Hizbullah leader is looking out for them. Meanwhile, 77 percent of Jewish respondents stated they think Arab citizens were concerned with Hizbullah's fate, and 68 percent of Arab respondents stated as much.
The survey also focused on the war's influence on Israelis' and Palestinians' predictions regarding the continuation of violence in the region and their willingness to renew negotiations with the other side.
Among Israeli respondents, 56 percent supported and 43 percent opposed talks with the Hamas government. About two thirds of the Israeli public support negotiations with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, assuming that this is a condition for a peace agreement.
Among Palestinians, however, the trend seems to be reversed. While in a poll conducted before the war 70 percent said they believe that a Hamas-led Palestinian authority should negotiate with Israel, and 26 percent objected, after the war, the support rate dropped to 59 percent, while the opposition rose to 38 percent.
The Palestinian survey, conducted by Dr. Khalil Shkaki, represents residents of the Wets Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, and was held among 1,270 interviewees age 18 and over.
The Israeli poll was conducted among 500 Jewish citizens and 401 Arab citizens.
Most Israelis oppose Golan Heights withdrawal
An additional survey carried out on August 28-30 examined Israeli public opinion on a settlement with Syria, an issue which was previously surveyed in August 2000 immediately after the collapse of negotiations between Israel and Syria that year.
The current poll found that the second war in Lebanon had no effect on public opinion in the matter. According to the poll, 56 percent of Israelis disapproved of withdrawing from the Golan Heights in return for a full peace settlement with Syria while 32 percent approved.
In August 2000, 55 percent disapproved while 34 percent approved.