Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (36)
In the aftermath of the Free Gaza flotilla incident, Turkey is the most popular regional country, but Hamas’s popularity remains unchanged while Salam Fayyad and his government gain greater public support, and while support for compromise increases, two thirds remain pessimistic about the future of the peace process and the majority does not believe in the efficacy of alternative options to negotiations such as popular resistance or unilateral declaration of statehood
10-13 June 2010
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 10 and 13 June 2010. The poll was conducted few days after the Israeli raid on the Free Gaza flotilla. It is worth noting also that the PA government of Salam Fayyad announced the cancellation of the local elections during the conduct of the poll. 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 email@example.com.
Findings of the second quarter of 2010 indicate that despite the events associated with the Free Gaza flotilla and the Israeli attack on it, a significant improvement in the status of Salam Fayyad and his government has been registered. Moreover, findings also show no change in the popularity of Hamas compared to its standing in our previous poll last March. But it is worth mentioning that decision by Fayyad’s government to cancel local elections scheduled for next month came during the conduct of the poll. Our findings therefore do not necessarily reflect the views of the public in the aftermath of that decision. It is likely that the cancellation of elections will have a negative impact on the standing of Fayyad and his government and the standing of Abbas and Fateh. The public is likely to view the cancellation as an indication of a major failure in state and institution building, a process led by Fayyad and his government, and an indication of fragmentation, panic and lack of leadership within Fateh.
Findings show that the public views positively the outcome associated with the Israeli attack on the Free Gaza flotilla seeing it as a victory for Palestinians and the beginning of the end or the weakening of the Gaza siege. But perhaps the biggest winner is Turkey who emerges from this as the most popular regional country. Findings also show that the decision to boycott settlements products is clearly supported by a majority of the Palestinians. But the decision to prevent Palestinian laborers from working in Israeli settlements is rejected by the majority. The opposition to preventing laborers from working in settlements is probably motivated by lack of confidence in the ability of the Palestinian Authority to find alternative jobs to settlement workers at a time when findings show that poverty and unemployment is one of the most important problems that deserve, in the eyes of the public, to be made the second top priority for the PA, right after the first priority, the reunification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Findings also show an increase in support for a political settlement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters or the Geneva Initiative, but the mood remains decidedly pessimistic about the chances for success in the current negotiations or for establishing a Palestinian state along side Israel in the next five years. If negotiations fail, findings show that a majority of the public is in favor of a diplomatic initiative, such as turning to the UN Security Council or a unilateral declaration of statehood, or resort to non violent resistance while a majority opposes return to armed intifada, dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, or abandonment of the two-state solution in favor of a one state solution. What is most interesting however is the fact that the overwhelming majority does not believe in the efficacy of any of the measures it supports in ending occupation or halting settlement expansion. It is evident that the public is looking for a way out and so far it finds none.
(1) Domestic Palestinian Conditions
- 9% believe conditions in the Gaza Strip today are good or very good while 35% say conditions in the West Bank are good or very good. But similar percentages, reaching about 60% in both areas say they feel that today their personal safety and security and that of their families are assured.
- Increase in support for the Fayyad government; similarly, there is an increase in the percentage of those who believe that the Fayyad government is the legitimate one. But positive evaluation of the Fayyad government decreases in two areas: political detention and right to demonstrate.
- Ismail Haniyeh’s government receives public support (57%) for banning rocket launching from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns but a majority (59%) opposes the taxes it imposes on cigarettes and other products.
- In presidential election, with Mahmud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh competing, the former receives 54% and the latter 39% of the votes. But if the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former receives 65% and the latter 30% of the votes.
- If Salam Fayyad competes in the presidential race, he loses against Abbas, Marwan Barghouti and Mustafa Barghouti. But he wins against Haniyeh.
- If parliamentary elections are to take place today, Fateh would receive 45% of the participants’ votes, Hamas 26%, all other election lists 12%, and 18% remain undecided.
- Dealing with the West Bank-Gaza Strip split is the top priority of the Palestinian public.
- A majority of 62% gives positive evaluation to the performance of the current local councils and 56% say they will participate in new elections in the West Bank even if boycotted by Hamas.
Findings show that only 9% believe conditions in the Gaza Strip today are good or very good while 35% say conditions in the West Bank are good or very good. But 62% of the Gazans and 60% of the West Bankers say that today they feel that their personal safety and security and that of their family are assured. In our last poll in March 2010, the percentage of those who expressed similar feelings reached 70% in the Gaza Strip and 55% in the West Bank. Despite the increased perception of safety and security, 44% say they are worried that they could be hurt in their daily life at the hands of someone from Fateh or Hamas. Worry levels reach 51% in the Gaza Strip compared to 40% in the West Bank.
Despite the drop in the perception of safety and security among Gazans, positive evaluation of the performance of the Haniyeh government remains unchanged since last March at 38%. But positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government increases from 42% last March to 48% in this poll. Moreover, satisfaction with Abbas’s performance increases slightly during the same period from 47% to 49%.
Perception that compared to the Haniyeh government, the Fayyad government is the legitimate one increases, with 27% indicating that the Haniyeh government is the legitimate one while 31% say the Fayyad government is the legitimate one; and 10% say both governments are legitimate and 27% say both are illegitimate. Last March, 28% said Haniyeh’s is the legitimate one and only 26% said Fayyad’s is the legitimate one. With regard to Abbas, now that his term as president has ended, 48% say he lost his legitimacy while 46% say he did not lose it.
The performance of the Fayyad government receives positive evaluation in the area of service delivery and negative evaluation in the area of freedoms. Three years after the establishment of the first Fayyad government, larger percentages believe conditions have become better in the areas of economy (47%), enforcement of law and order (57%), educational services (54%), and health services (56%) while much smaller percentages believe conditions in these same areas have become worse (27% for economic conditions, 19% for enforcement of law and order, 18% for education, and 14% for health services). But only 30% say conditions of corruption have improved compared to 31% who say these conditions have actually worsened. On the other hand, larger percentages believe conditions have become worse in the areas of political arrests (47%) and the right to demonstrate (44%) while only 19% say conditions regarding political arrests have become better and 27% say conditions regarding the right to demonstrate have become better. But if Fateh sought to replace Fayyad with one of its own members, the largest percentage (48%) would oppose that while 43% would support it. Similarly, if Fateh asked Fayyad to appoint one of its members as a minister of finance, only 44% would support that while 48% would oppose it.
For Hamas’s government in the Gaza Strip, a majority of 57% support and 38% oppose its efforts to prevent the launching of rockets against Israeli towns. Support for these efforts reaches 49% among Gazans but increases to 62% among West Bankers. On the other hand, a majority of 59% believe the taxes imposed by the Hamas government on cigarettes and other products are not reasonable while only 34% view such taxes as reasonable. Belief that the taxes imposed by the Hamas government are reasonable reaches 31% in the Gaza Strip and 36% in the West Bank.
In light of the failure of Fateh and Hamas to reconcile, only 16% believe that re-unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be achieved soon while 55% say it will be achieved but only after a long time and 26% say unity will not resume at all and two separate entities will emerge.
If new presidential elections are held today, Abbas would receive the vote of 54% and Haniyeh 39% of the vote of those participating while 7% say they are undecided. The rate of participation in such election would reach 61% with 39% saying they will not participate in elections in which Abbas and Haniyeh are the only candidates. Last March Abbas received 50% and Haniyeh 40%. 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 with non-participation rate dropping in this case to 28%.
If the competition over the presidency is between Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the former would receive 34% and the latter 19% while 3% say they are undecided and the remaining percentage (44%) say they will not vote for either candidate. But if the competition is between Fayyad and Marwan Barghouti, the former would receive the same percentage as in the previous case (19%) while the latter would receive 50% with 3% undecided and 28% voting for neither. If the competition was between Fayyad and Mustafa Barghouti (the head of al Mubadara), Fayyad’s vote would increase to 30% but Mustafa Barghouti would defeat him but with only 34% of the vote; 3% say they are undecided and 32% say they will vote for neither. Fayyad however would defeat Haniyeh in a presidential elections by 36% to 32%, with 3% undecided and 30% voting for neither. Most popular figures selected by the public as possible vice presidents from a list of five provided to respondents are Marwan Barghouti (selected by 28% of the public), Ismail Haniyeh (20%), Salam Fayyad (14%) Mustafa Barghouti (10%), and Saeb Erekat (6%).
If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 71% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 45% say they would vote for Fateh and 26% say they would vote for Hamas, 12% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 18% are undecided. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip reaches 49% and in the West Bank 42%. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip reaches 32% and in the West Bank 22%. Last March, Fateh received 42% and Hamas 28%, which means that Hamas has not benefited from Free Gaza flotilla incident which took place only few days before the conduct of the poll.
Hamas’s problem with the public remains unchanged as many believe it brings about siege and contribute to the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while the public tends to believe that Fateh contributes to the lifting of the siege and the ending of the spilt. For example, findings show that if Hamas wins the next presidential and legislative elections, a majority of 62% believes this would lead to the consolidation of the siege and boycott on the Palestinian government while only 12% believe the opposite. But if Fateh wins the next elections, only 11% believe this would lead to the tightening of the siege and blockade while 56% believe the opposite. With regard to unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in case of a Hamas win, 47% believe it would lead to the consolidation of the spilt while only 23% say it would consolidate unity. By contrast, if Fateh wins, only 29% believe it would consolidate the split while 36% believe it would consolidate unity.
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, the largest percentage (33%) mentioned the absence of national unity due to the split, while 24% mentioned poverty and unemployment, 18% mentioned the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings, and 11% mentioned corruption in some public institutions, and 10% mentioned occupation and settlement activities.
A majority of 62% gives a positive evaluation to the performance of their local councils during the past five years while only 35% give it a negative evaluation. If local elections do take place, as was planned before the cancellation of the elections by the Fayyad government, 56% say they would participate in those elections even if boycotted by Hamas while 41% say they will not participate. Moreover, a majority of 51% believe that these elections, if they were to take place as scheduled, would be fair and free while 37% say they would not be fair or free. A larger percentage (48%) believes that if local elections are to take place on time, Fateh would win while 12% believe leftists and independents would win, Finally, a majority of 51% believe that if election do take place with Hamas boycotting it, it will lead to the consolidation of the internal split while only 17% say it would make reconciliation easier and 27% say it would have no impact on reconciliation or split.
(2) Peace Process
- Increase in the percentage of support for compromise, as in the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva Initiative, but two thirds remain pessimistic about the chances for a peace settlement
- If peace talks fail, a majority supports turning to the UN Security Council, unilaterally declaring a state, or turning to non violent resistance. But a majority opposes return to armed intifada, dissolution of the PA, or abandonment of the two-state solution and adoption of the one state solution.
- Despite support for non violent resistance, the overwhelming majority does not believe its efficacy in ending occupation or halting settlement expansion.
- Moreover, despite support for unilateral declaration of statehood, only one quarter believes things will become better after the declaration while 73% believe things will become worse or remain unchanged.
- About 80% say the policy of the Obama Administration favors Israel while only 4% say it favors Palestinians.
The Clinton parameters for a Palestinian-Israeli permanent settlement were presented by President Clinton at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials almost ten years ago, on December 23, 2000, following the collapse of the July 2000 Camp David summit. The Geneva Initiative, along similar lines, was made public around the end of 2003. These parameters address the most fundamental issues which underlie the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: (1) Final borders and territorial exchange; (2) Refugees; (3) Jerusalem; (4) A demilitarized Palestinian state; (5) Security arrangements; and (6) End of conflict. We address these issues periodically since December 2003, and in the current poll we revisited these crucial issues following the diplomatic activity of the US with regard to the conflict and the beginning of the proximity talks between the parties. The findings indicate an increase in support for the overall package. Palestinians are now split half between support and opposition to the overall package: 49% support and 49% oppose it. This level of support represents an increase in support of 11 percentage points from 2009.
Looking at the various items in the package, findings show a majority support for two out of the six:
(1) Final Borders and Territorial Exchange: 60% support or strongly support and 38% oppose or strongly oppose an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with the exception of some settlement areas in less than 3% of the West Bank that would be swapped with an equal amount of territory from Israel in accordance with a map that was presented to the Palestinian respondents. The map was identical to that presented to respondents in August 2009, when support for this compromise, with its map, stood at 49% and opposition at 50%.
(2) Refugees: 48% support and 49% oppose a refugee settlement in which both sides agree that the solution will be based on UN resolutions 194 and 242. The refugees would be given five choices for permanent residency. These are: the Palestinian state and the Israeli areas transferred to the Palestinian state in the territorial exchange mentioned above; no restrictions would be imposed on refugee return to these two areas. Residency in the other three areas (in host countries, third countries, and Israel) would be subject to the decision of these states. As a base for its decision Israel will consider the average number of refugees admitted to third countries like Australia, Canada, Europe, and others. All refugees would be entitled to compensation for their “refugeehood” and loss of property. In August 2009, 37% agreed with an identical compromise while 61% opposed it.
(3) Jerusalem: 37% support and 62% oppose a Jerusalem compromise in which East Jerusalem would become the capital of the Palestinian state with Arab neighborhoods coming under Palestinian sovereignty and Jewish neighborhoods coming under Israeli sovereignty. The Old City (including al Haram al Sharif) would come under Palestinian sovereignty with the exception of the Jewish Quarter and the Wailing Wall that would come under Israeli sovereignty. In August 2009, an identical compromise obtained 31% support and 68% opposition.
(4) Demilitarized Palestinian State: 28% support and 70% oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that would have no army, but would have a strong security force and would have a multinational force deployed in it to ensure its security and safety. Israel and Palestine would be committed to end all forms of violence directed against each other. A similar compromise received in August 2009, 24% support, and opposition reached 76%. This item receives the lowest level of support by Palestinians. Unlike the refugees and Jerusalem components, this issue has not received due attention in public discourse, as it should, since it may become a major stumbling block in the efforts to reach a settlement.
(5) Security Arrangements: 41% support and 57% oppose a compromise whereby the Palestinian state would have sovereignty over its land, water, and airspace, but Israel would have the right to use the Palestinian airspace for training purposes, and would maintain two early warning stations in the West Bank for 15 years. A multinational force would remain in the Palestinian state and in its border crossings for an indefinite period of time. The task of the multinational force would be to monitor the implementation of the agreement, and to monitor territorial borders and coast of the Palestinian state including the presence at its international crossings. In August 2009, 34% of the Palestinians supported this parameter while 64% opposed it.
(6) End of Conflict: 63% support and 35% oppose a compromise on ending the conflict that would state that when the permanent status agreement is fully implemented, it will mean the end of the conflict and no further claims will be made by either side. The parties will recognize Palestine and Israel as the homelands of their respective peoples. The comparable figures in August 2009 were 55% support and 44% opposition.
Summary Table: Support for Clinton’s Permanent Settlement/ Geneva Initiative Framework 2003-2010
1) Borders and Territorial Exchange
4) Demilitarized State
5) Security Arrangements
6) End of Conflict
If the US under the leadership of Obama pressures Israel and the Palestinians to accept and implement this package as a permanent settlement, 48% think Palestinians should accept it, and 47% believe that they should reject it.
Findings also show an increase in support for a mutual recognition of identity: 58% support and 39% oppose mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people as part of a permanent status agreement and after all issues in the conflict are resolved and a Palestinian State is established. A year ago in June 2009, 50% supported and 49% opposed this mutual recognition of identity. Moreover, two thirds support the Arab (or Saudi) peace initiative and 30% oppose it. The Saudi initiative calls for Arab recognition of and normalization of relations with Israel after it ends its occupation of Arab territories occupied in 1967 and after the establishment of a Palestinian state. The plan calls for Israeli retreat from all territories occupied in 1967 including Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. The refugees’ problem will be resolved through negotiation in a just and agreed upon manner and in accordance with UN resolution 194. In return, all Arab states will recognize Israel and its right to secure borders, will sign peace treaties with her and establish normal diplomatic relations. In our December 2009 poll 68% supported it in December and 30% opposed it.
60% of the Palestinians support yielding to American pressure to accept and implement the Arab (Saudi) Peace Initiative, while 35% oppose it. In August 2009, 58% thought Palestinians should accept such American pressure and 39% thought they should reject such pressure. As to their assessments of the other side’s response to such pressure: 53% of the Palestinians think Israel will reject and 42% think it will accept it. In the August 2009 poll, 49% of Palestinians thought that most Israelis would reject such pressure, 46% believed that most Israelis would accept it.
Despite the increased support for compromise, pessimism regarding the chances for the peace process remains very high: Two thirds of the Palestinians think that chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State next to the State of Israel are non-existent or low; 32% believe the chances are medium or high. In June 2009, 69% thought that chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State next to the State of Israel are non-existent or low. Even if an agreement is reached in the current proximity talks mediated by George Mitchell, 55% of the Palestinians will not grant legitimacy to such agreement, while only 35% will. Needless to say, the fact that 48% of the public believe that the PA president has lost his legitimacy when his term as president has expired, as mentioned above, contributes in a significant manner to this conclusion regarding an agreement negotiated by the president. Belief in the legitimacy of the agreement increases in the Gaza Strip (41%) compared to the West Bank (31%), among supporters of Fateh (57%) compared to supporters of Hamas (15%), and among those who work in the public sector (41%) compared to those who work in the private sector (33%). In any case, findings show that 57% are pessimistic about the outcome of these proximity talks, while 23% are optimistic.
In the backdrop of the opening of the proximity talks and the raid on the flotilla to Gaza, 31% of the Palestinians think that armed confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations. 23% of the Palestinians think that negotiations will resume soon enough and armed confrontations will stop. 40% of the Palestinians expect that negotiations will resume but some armed attacks will continue. Moreover, 74% are worried that they or a family member might be hurt by Israel in their daily life or that their land would be confiscated or home demolished. Last March, the percentage stood at 77%.
If the proximity talks fail, the option endorsed by most Palestinians is to ask the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian State (65%). The next most popular option (60% support) is to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state. 51% support the option to start a non-violent resistance. The other options asked about received only minority support: 44% support the resumption of the armed Intifada (54% oppose it); 39% support the dissolution of the PA if the talks fail (56% oppose it), and 27% support abandoning the two-state solution and demanding instead a one-state solution (71% oppose it).
But findings show that support for non violent resistance does not indicate a belief in its efficacy. Despite the fact that it is supported by 51%, as mentioned above, only 27% believe that it can contribute to ending occupation or halting settlement construction while 71% believe it can not. Moreover, 44% believe that the boycott on products produced in settlements, a non violent resistance measure, will hurt the proximity talks, 28% believe it will benefit the talks and 25% believe it will have no impact. Similarly, support for a unilateral declaration of statehood does not indicate a belief that such a declaration would change Palestinian conditions for the better. Indeed, only one quarter believes that conditions would improve after such declaration while 32% say conditions will remain the same while the largest percentage (41%) believes conditions for Palestinians will become worse. Over and above all this, the overwhelming majority (80%) believes the US will not recognize the new unilaterally declared state while only 15% believe the US will recognize it. When asked about the policy of the Obama administration, 79% said it favored Israel, 4% said it favored the Palestinians, and 13% said it favored both sides.
(3) Attack on the Free Gaza flotilla incident
- 43% say Turkey is the regional country most supportive of the Palestinians
- 63% say the Palestinians came out winners in the aftermath of the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla
In an open question about the regional country seen as the most supportive of the Palestinians and their cause, 43% mentioned Turkey while only 13% mentioned Egypt, followed by 6% for Iran, 5% for Saudi Arabia, 5% for Syria, 3% for Lebanon, and 2% for Jordan. Turkey is slightly more popular in the Gaza Strip (45%) than in the West Bank (41%). It is interesting to note that Egypt has been mentioned by 25% of Gazans compared to only 6% of West Bankers. Turkey’s popularity increases in refugee camps (54%) compared to cities (41%), among supporters of Hamas (52%) compared to supporters of Fateh (36%), and among students (53%) compared to laborers (38%).
A majority of 63% believe the Palestinian side is the one who came out the winner from the Free Gaza flotilla incident while 27% believe Israel came out the winner and 9% believe none of them came out a winner. Moreover, a majority of 60% believe that in the aftermath of the incident, the Gaza siege will be weakened or ended while only 18% believe it will be strengthened.
(4) Boycott of settlements’ products and work in settlements
- 72% support and 26% oppose boycott of settlements’ products
- But only 38% support and 60% oppose a ban on Palestinian labor in settlements
While a majority of 72% support and 26% oppose a boycott of settlements’ products, only 38% support and 60% oppose preventing Palestinian laborers from working in settlements. While the Gaza Strip and the West Bank support the boycott of settlements’ products equally, support for preventing laborers from working in settlements is greater in the Gaza Strip, reaching 45%, than the West Bank (34%). Support for preventing Palestinian laborers from working in settlements is also greater in cities (40%) and refugee camps (38%) than in rural areas (30%), among supporters of Hamas (46%) compared to supporters of Fateh (40%), and among holders of BA degree (41%) compared to illiterates (33%)....Full Report