Source: New York Times June 17th, 2007
Author: Craig S. Smith and Greg Myre
Palestinians of the West Bank (about 2.5 million): From Israel's founding in 1948 until the 1967 war, the region was administered by Jordan and the Palestinians there tended to identify with the more secular societies of Jordan, Syria or Lebanon, where many went to study. With greater freedom of movement, a healthier economy, and better educational opportunities than in Gaza, the Palestinians on the West Bank generally feel superior to their Gazan cousins.
But there are divisions within West Bank Palestinians -- between the roughly 40 percent who are refugees from Israel and most of the rest, who are historically tied to the land. There are distinctions between residents of different cities, between city folk and country folk, between different clans and between rich and poor. While Fatah continues to dominate the territory, Hamas' popularity has grown.
Palestinians of Gaza (1.4 million): From Israel's founding in 1948 until the 1967 war, the region was administered by Egypt, which fostered a strong sense of Palestinian identity. Many Gazans studied in Egypt and were influenced by Islamist movements there, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. That influence gave birth to Hamas in 1987 and the radical Islamist group has steadily grown in the territory as economic conditions worsened.
But there are divisions within Gaza's Palestinians -- between the roughly 70 percent who are refugees from Israel and the rest, who are historically tied to the land. Clan identities are stronger in the densely populated confines of Gaza. While Hamas won the 2006 national elections, Fatah continues to enjoy significant support, particularly among the large number of people who work for the near-bankrupt Palestinian Authority -- only Fatah has the backing of the international community necessary for the financial support that can pay their salaries.
Palestinian exiles: Palestinians make up a majority of the population in Jordan, where they also tend to be moderate and relatively well off. But Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon live in impoverished camps, where many support radical factions.
Israeli Arabs (1 million plus): Arab Israelis tend to be much more politically moderate than the other groups.