Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (37)
A confused and uncertain public:
While the Majority Opposes Return to Negotiations Under the Shadow of Settlement Construction, and While the Majority Opposes Alternatives to Negotiations Such as Violence, the Dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, or the Adoption of a One-State Solution, and While the Majority Supports Alternatives Such as Going to the UNSC, a Unilateral Declaration of Statehood, and Resort to Non-Violent Resistance, the Overwhelming Majority has no Confidence in the Efficacy of any of the Alternatives it Supports
These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 30 September and 2 October 2010. The poll was conducted right after the expiration of the Israeli partial settlement freeze and during Palestinian deliberations on the future of their direct negotiations with the Israeli government. Few weeks before the conduct of the poll, Hamas carried out an armed attack near Hebron that led to the death of four Israeli settlers. The poll covers issues related to direct negotiations, alternatives Palestinians have in case of pulling out of direct negotiations, Hamas's attack against settlers, and internal Palestinian matters such as the withdrawal of government cars from senior civil servants, current conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, elections, future of reconciliation, and others. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%.
For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel 02-296 4933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Findings of the third quarter of 2010 show a clear majority, almost two thirds, demanding Palestinian pull out of direct negotiations as long as Israel returns to settlement construction. But the public is uncertain, indeed confused, about the best course of action for the Palestinian side. On the one hand, while strongly rejecting negotiations while settlement construction is underway, it opposes resort to violence, the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority (PA), or the abandonment of the two-state solution and the adoption of a one state solution. And despite the fact that the public supports alternatives such as going to the UN Security Council, the unilateral declaration of statehood, and non violent resistance, about three quarters have no confidence in the efficacy of any of these alternatives. It is worth noting however that despite the lack of support for a general return to violence, findings show a majority support for the Hamas attack on settlers near Hebron in the previous month. This attack took place on the eve of the inauguration of the direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Washington, DC. More puzzling is the finding that despite the majority opposition to violence, the overwhelming majority of respondents expressed opposition to the steps taken by the PA to crack down on Hamas's violence, steps that appear to be consistent in theory with the public view that does not see violence as a viable alternative, one that can help Palestinians achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not. It is also worth noting that half of the Palestinians believe that Hamas's attack on settlers aimed at derailing the peace process and the direct negotiations.
It is also interesting to note that the balance of power between Fateh and Hamas has remained unchanged since the second quarter of 2010. In fact, the popularity of President Mahmud Abbas has risen during the current period compared to that of Ismail Haniyeh. The implication of this is that Hamas did not gain more popularity despite public support for its armed attack on settlers.
Moreover, Abbas and Fateh did not lose public support despite conceding to direct negotiations in the few weeks before the conduct of the poll, negotiations that did not receive public support, and despite the crackdown on Hamas after its armed attack, a crackdown opposed by the overwhelming majority of the public.
Findings also show that the public is not optimistic about the chances for reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas, despite the latest meeting in Damascus between representatives of the two sides, and that half of the public still believes that if Hamas wins the next elections, separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be consolidated while only a quarter of the public believes that a Fateh victory would consolidate separation. Finally, findings show that a clear majority is in favor of the Fayyad government decision to withdraw government cars from senior civil servants.
(1) Domestic Conditions
- 70% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip and 34% describe conditions in the West Bank as bad or very bad.
- 58% believe there is, or there is to some extent, free press in the West Bank and 32% say there is, or there is to some extent, free press in the Gaza Strip.
- Perception of safety and security is identical in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: 60% say that these days they feel that their safety and security is assured.
- Positive evaluation of the performance of public institutions in the West Bank reaches 43% and in the Gaza Strip 30%.
- If new presidential elections were held today, Abbas would receive 57% and Ismail Haniyeh 36%, and if competition is betweenMarwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former would receive 65% and the latter 30%.
- If new legislative elections were held today, Fateh would receive 45%, Hamas 26%, all other electoral lists combined 12%, and 17% remain undecided.
- Despite the latest reconciliation meeting between Fateh and Hamas in Damascus, 30% say the separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is permanent, 51% say unity will be resumed but only after a long time, and only 14% say unity will be resumed soon.
- A Hamas victory in new elections will lead to the consolidation of separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the eyes of half of the public and to the tightening of the siege and blockade in the eyes of 86% of the public.
- 63% support the decision of the Fayyad government to withdraw government cars from senior civil servants and 32% oppose it.
- Acts of burning and destruction of summer camps and touristic installations in the Gaza Strip are committed by groups belonging to Hamas or extreme Islamist groups, or groups that have split from Hamas in the eyes of 48% of the public while only 5% put the blame for these acts on Fateh.
11% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good and 70% describe them as bad or very bad. By contrast, 33% describe conditions in the West Bank as good or very good and only 34% describe them as bad or very bad. However, 70% say there is corruption in PA institutions in the West Bank while only 60% say there is corruption in the institutions of the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip.
58% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank and 32% say there is no such freedom in the West Bank. But only 36% describe conditions of democracy and human rights in the PA under President Mahmud Abbas as good or very good and 33% say they are bad or very bad. Moreover, only 30% say people in the West Bank can criticize the Palestinian Authority without fear while 65% say people cannot do that without fear. By contrast, 42% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip while 43% say there is no such freedom in the Gaza Strip. Moreover only 24% say people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear and 66% say people cannot do that without fear.
Perceptions of safety and security are almost identical: in the Gaza Strip, 60% say they feel safe and secure in their homes these days and only 40% do not feel safe and secure. In the West Bank, 61% say they feel safe and secure and 39% say they do not.
Positive evaluation of the performance of the PA public institutions in the West Bank reaches 43% and negative evaluation reaches 26%. By contrast, positive evaluation of the performance of the public institutions of the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip reaches 30% and negative evaluation reaches 31%. Moreover, 29% say that political, security, and economic conditions force them to seek immigration to other countries. The percentage of those seeking immigration reaches 37% in the Gaza Strip and 24% in the West Bank. Positive evaluation of the performance of the dismissed government of Ismail Haniyeh reaches 36% and negative evaluation reaches 27% while positive evaluation of the performance of the government of Salam Fayyad reaches 43% and negative evaluation reaches 25%. Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas reaches 51% and dissatisfaction reaches 45%. Satisfaction is higher in the West Bank (53%) than in the Gaza Strip (49%). 26% say the government of Haniyeh is the legitimate Palestinian government and 30% say the Fayyad government is the legitimate one. 30% say both governments are illegitimate and 9% say the two governments are legitimate. These results are almost identical to those obtained last June.
If new presidential elections were held today, and only two, Abbas and Haniyeh, were nominated, the former would receive the vote of 57% and the latter 36% of the vote of those participating. The rate of participation in such election would reach 61%. Last June Abbas received 54% and Haniyeh 39%. In the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives today 59% and Haniyeh 37% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 55% and Haniyeh 35%. If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 65% and the latter would receive 30% of the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach 70%. In the Gaza Strip, Barghouti receives 67% and Haniyeh 32% and in the West Bank Barghouti receives 64% and Haniyeh 28%. Most popular figures selected by the public as possible vice presidents from a list of five provided to respondents are Marwan Barghouti (selected by 30% of the public), Ismail Haniyeh (18%), Salam Fayyad (13%) Mustafa Barghouti(11%), and Saeb Erekat (6%).
If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 69% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 26% say they would vote for Hamas and 45% say they would vote for Fateh, 12% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 17% are undecided. These results are identical to those obtained in June. Vote for Hamas in the West Bank (27%) is higher than the vote it receives in the Gaza Strip (24%) and vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip (53%) is higher than it receives in the West Bank (41%). Percentage of the undecided in the West Bank reaches 19% and 14% in the Gaza Strip.
In light of the latest Damascus meeting between Fateh and Hamas, the public is not optimistic about the future of unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: 30% say the split is permanent, 51% say unity will return but only after a long time, and only 14% say unity will return soon.
Responsibility for the continued split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is placed on Hamas by 15% of the respondents and on Fateh by 11% and on both together by 66%. But when asked about the future of the unity of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip if Hamas wins new elections, 49% say such a win would consolidate the split. But if Fateh wins, only 25% say its win would consolidate the split. Only 17% say a Hamas electoral victory would consolidate unity while 34% say a Fateh electoral victory would consolidate unity. While the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are similar in believing that a Hamas victory would consolidate the split, a major difference between respondents in the two areas emerges regarding the future of the split in the case of a Fateh victory: 25% of West Bankers say such a victory would consolidate unity while 49% of Gazans think it would consolidate unity.
Moreover, findings show that a majority of 86% believes that if Hamas wins the next presidential and legislative elections such victory would lead to the consolidation of the siege and boycott on the Palestinian government or would keep things as they are today. But if Fateh wins the next elections, 37% believe this would lead to the tightening of the siege and blockade or would keep conditions as they are today. 56% believe that a Fateh victory would lead to the lifting of the siege and boycott and only 9% believe a Hamas victory would lead to the lifting of the siege and boycott.
In this regard, what worsens conditions for Hamas is the public belief that the two issues of national unity and ending the siege should be two of the most important Palestinian priorities. In an open question about the main problems confronting Palestinians which should be the top priorities of the PA, 26% mentioned the absence of national unity due to the split, while 15% mentioned the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings, 28% mentioned poverty and unemployment, 16% mentioned occupation and settlement activities, and 11% mentioned corruption in some public institutions.
63% support and 32% oppose the decision of the government of Salam Fayyad to withdraw government cars from senior civil servants. Support for the decision is higher in the West Bank (68%) than in the Gaza Strip (54%).
When asked who is behind the wave of burning and destruction of summer camps and tourist installations in the Gaza Strip, 19% said Hamas groups were the culprit, 11% said it was groups that had split from Hamas, 18% said it was radical Islamist groups from outside Hamas. Only 5% said Fateh groups were behind the wave of attacks while the rest said they do not know or selected other groups such as Israel (7%) or collaborators (5%).
(2) Peace Process
- 66% want the Palestinian side to pull out of the direct negotiations as long as settlement construction is underway, but 30% support continuation of negotiations despite the resumption of settlement construction.
- Despite opposition to negotiations, 64% of the Palestinians believe that the Palestinian side needs success in the negotiations more than the Israeli side.
- In the case of a pull out of negotiations or in case negotiations fail, the majority supports three alternative options: going to the UN Security Council, a unilateral declaration of statehood, and resort to non violent resistance.
- But the majority believes that these three alternatives will not be effective in changing current Palestinian condition or in ending occupation or stopping settlement construction.
- A majority opposes return to armed intifada, the dissolution of the PA, or the abandonment of the two-state solution and the adoption of a one-state solution.
- But Hamas's armed attack on settlers near Hebron receives the support of 51% of the public and the opposition of 44%. Moreover, more than three quarters of the public oppose measures taken by the PA against Hamas in the aftermath of that attack.
- More than three quarters of the public are worried that they or members of their families might be harmed by Israelis or that their land would be confiscated or homes demolished.
- A majority of 57% support the Arab Peace Initiative and 39% oppose it. But only 49% support and 48% oppose a mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people.
66% believe the Palestinian side should withdraw from the direct negotiations now that the Israeli settlement moratorium has ended and construction has been resumed while 30% believe it should not withdraw. Percentage of those demanding withdrawal from negotiations increases to 68% in the West Bank compared to 62% in the Gaza Strip. Even if the US succeeds in finding a compromise for the settlement issue, one that is partial or temporary, a majority of 56% would still oppose return to direct negotiations while only 39% would support a return. It seems that the opposition to negotiations while settlement construction continues is driven by extreme pessimism about their chances for success. If direct negotiations continue, the chances for success are low or very low in the view of 63% and high or very high in the view of 6% and medium in the view of 29%. Indeed, 67% believe that the chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel in the next five years are slim or non-existent while 32% believe the chances are medium or high. The opposition to negotiation might also be driven by prevailing doubts about the legitimacy of any agreement that might come out of it given the fact that the term of the President and the legislative council has ended: even if it was possible to reach an agreement, 51% say such an agreement would be illegitimate while 43% say it will be legitimate.
Despite opposition to negotiations, 64% of the Palestinians believe that the Palestinian side is in more need for these negotiations to succeed than the Israelis while only 14% believe that Israel is in more need for success, and 20% believe that the two sides need success in negotiations equally. Percentage of those believing that Palestinians need success more than Israelis increases in the Gaza Strip (68%) compared to the West Bank (61%). Moreover, a majority of Palestinians (53%) believes that the Israelis too believe that the Palestinian side need success more than the Israelis. Here too, differences between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip emerge: 60% of Gazans but only 49% of West Bankers believe that Israelis think Palestinians need success more than Israelis.
In case of Palestinian pull out of the direct negotiations or in case negotiations fail, a majority of Palestinians (69%) supports going to the UN Security Councils to obtain a recognition of a Palestinian state while 54% support a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood and 51% support resort to non violent and non armed resistance. Support for a unilateral declaration of statehood increases in the West Bank, reaching 58%, compared to the Gaza Strip (47%). Similarly, support for non violent resistance is higher in the West Bank (53%) compared to the Gaza Strip (47%). By contrast, a majority (71%) is opposed to the abandonment of the two-state solution and the adoption of a one-state solution while 57% is opposed to return to armed intifada and an identical majority is opposed to the dissolution of the PA. Support for a return to armed intifada increases in the Gaza Strip (52%) compared to the West Bank (35%). Similarly, support for PA dissolution increases in the Gaza Strip (44%) compared to the West Bank (37%).
Despite the support for going to the UN Security Council, 76% of the Palestinians believe that if the Palestinians do indeed do that, the US will use its veto power to prevent recognition of the Palestinian state. Moreover, if Palestinians unilaterally declare statehood, 75% are convinced that such a declaration would be meaningless, that it will not change Palestinian conditions or will change them to the worse. Similarly, despite the support for non violent resistance, 72% believe that such resistance will not succeed in ending occupation or stopping settlement construction.
On the other hand, if armed confrontations were to erupt between Palestinians and Israelis, only 41% of Palestinians believe such confrontations would help achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not while 55% believe they would not help. Belief that armed confrontations, if erupted, would help achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not increases in the Gaza Strip (46%) compared to the West Bank (38%). But if such confrontations were indeed to erupt, 47% would support them and 49% would oppose them. Support increases in the Gaza Strip (55%) compared to the West Bank (42%). Nonetheless, a majority of 51% supported and only 44% opposed Hamas's latest armed attack near Hebron which led to the death of four settlers. A majority of the support for the attack came from the Gaza Strip, reaching 61%, while only 44% supported it in the West Bank. An overwhelming majority of Palestinians (76%) opposes the PA crackdown on Hamas, a crackdown that took place in the aftermath of the attack on settlers. Only 20% supported the crackdown. About half of the public (49%) believes that the main motive behind Hamas's attack on settlers was the impede the peace process and direct negotiations while 39% believe that the motivation was to resist occupation and settlements.
76% are worried that they or a member of their family might be hurt by Israelis or that their land might be confiscated or homes demolished while 24% say they are not worried. Moreover, about three quarters believe that Israel's long term goal is to expand so that it stretches between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River while expelling the Arab population and an additional 20% believe its goal is to annex the West Bank and deny the Palestinians political rights and 13% believe its goal is to withdraw from all or part of the occupied Arab land after insuring its security.
57% support and 39% oppose the Arab Peace Initiative. But if the US decides to pressure the Palestinians and the Israelis to accept and implement the initiative, 53% believe that the Palestinian side should accept such American intervention and 42% believe it should not. Moreover, 49% support and 48% oppose a mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people after all issues of the conflict have been resolved and after a Palestinian state has been established.
(3) Turkey Remains Popular:
- Turkey is the most popular among Palestinians followed by Egypt, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia
In an open question about the regional country most supportive of the Palestinians, Turkey was selected by 25% of the public, remaining the most popular among respondents, followed by Egypt with 17%, Syria with 8%, and Iran and Saudi Arabia with 7% each. These results indicate a reduction in the percentage of those who selected Turkey from 43% last June and an increase of those who selected Egypt from 13% during the same period. It is worth noting that Egypt came first in the Gaza Strip with 30% selecting it. ....Full Report