While Abbas’s popularity improves and while a majority of Palestinians accepts Fateh’s position that a national unity government must accept agreements signed with Israel, and while a majority supports the two-state solution, pessimism prevails regarding the future of the peace process and the chances for Fateh-Hamas reconciliation
21-23 May 2009
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 21 and 23 May 2009. The poll was conducted in the aftermath of the failure of the latest round of Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo and the formation of a new government headed by Salam Fayyad and after the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US president Barak Obama in Washington DC. The poll examines the following topics: domestic issues such as the balance of power, the performance and legitimacy of two governments, that of Ismail Haniyeh and Salam Fayyad, confidence in the police, the effects of the continued conflict between Fateh and Hamas, as well as the various issues of the peace process such as the support for the two-state vs. the one-state solutions. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. This press release covers domestic Palestinian issues; issues related to the peace process and Israeli-Palestinian relations will be covered in a separate joint Palestinian-Israeli press release. 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 2009 show a stable balance of power between Fateh and Hamas compared to the situation in the first quarter. Abbas’s popularity increases slightly in comparison to that of Haniyeh. Findings also show that most Palestinians have no confidence in the ability of Fateh and Hamas to reach a reconciliation agreement. In this regard, the public tend to support Hamas’s position on what kind of electoral system should be adopted but the majority supports Fateh’s position on the government platform issue. Findings show a split regarding the new Fayyad government with a larger percentage opposing its formation. Findings show that public evaluation of the performance of various actors during the Gaza war clearly favors Hams and those who support it, like Iran and Syria, while Fateh, Abbas, Fayyad’s government, and Egypt receive lower positive evaluation ratings.
With regard to the peace process, findings indicate a continued state of widespread pessimism regarding the chances for establishing a Palestinian state in the next five years and regarding the chances for a permanent peace agreement with the Netanyahu government. But despite this pessimism, a majority still supports the two-state solution while less than a quarter supports the one-state solution. Pessimism however is reflected sharply in two major issues. Support for launching rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli communities across the border increases considerably among the pessimists and decreases among the optimists. Similarly, a larger percentage among the pessimists tends to view positively an Iranian attainment of nuclear weapons while the opposite is true among the optimists.
(1) Domestic Palestinian Conditions
- 42% support the formation of the new Salam Fayyad government and 48% oppose it
- 55% are worried that they or members of their families might be harmed by other Palestinians and 44% are not worried
- 46% support a mixed electoral system as proposed by Hamas and 39% support a fully proportional system as proposed by Fateh; but 50% support Fateh’s position that the program of national unity government must accept all previous agreement signed between Israel and the PLO while 44% support Hamas’s position which rejects this condition
- If new presidential elections are held today, Abbas would receive 49% of the vote and Haniyeh 44%, and if the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former would receive 64% and the latter 32%
- Fateh receives the support of 41% of potential voters, Hamas 33%, all other electoral lists 9%, and 18% remain undecided; public estimates of the likely outcome of elections are similar with 39% saying Fateh would win and 28% saying Hamas would win
- 41% believe that the performance of Haniyeh’s government is good or very good and 32% say the performance of Fayyad’s government is good or very good
- 33% believe that Fateh’s Sixth Congress will be held in July as announced while 42% say it will be postponed and 14% say it will never be held
- 13% say they have been have been attacked or robbed by other Palestinians during the past year, and among those 43% say they have submitted a complaint while 56% say they have not
Findings indicate that the pubic is divided with regard to the formation of the new Fayyad government with a larger percentage (48%) opposing its formation and 42% supporting it. Opposition increases slightly in the Gaza Strip (51%) compared to the West Bank (46%), in cities (53%) compared to refugee camps (49%) and villages and towns (43%), among men (52%) compared to women (44%), among holders of BA degree (56%) compared to illiterates (30%), among those working in the private sector (55%) compared to those working in the public sector (42%), among those opposed to the peace process (77%) compared to those who support the peace process (36%), and among Hamas supporters (78%) compared to Fateh supporters (17%).
Findings also indicate that the conflict between Fateh and Hamas is causing anxiety among the majority with 55% saying that they are worried that they or members of their family might be harmed by other Palestinians from Fateh or Hamas and 44% saying they are not worried. The level of worry increases in the Gaza Strip, reaching 65% compared to50% in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, worry among supporters of Fateh reaches 74% compared to 48% among supporters of Hamas. In the West Bank, worry among supporters of Hamas reaches 56% compared to 48% among supporters of Fateh. Findings also indicate that the overwhelming majority (90%) believes that the price of Fateh-Hamas conflict is high or unbearable while only 10% say it is medium or bearable. Moreover, 60% believe that Palestinian society can endure the price of division between Fateh and Hamas for less than a year or for few years while 8% say it can endure it for a period between 5-10 years, and 23% say it can endure it forever. Only 25% believe that Fateh’s goal is to integrate Hamas into the political system while avoiding international siege and boycott while 32% say its goal is destroy Hamas’s political, military, financial and social power; 21% say the goal of Fateh is to insure Hamas’s participation in some public institutions as long as it does not pose a threat to Fateh’s dominance, and 16% say its goal is to keep Hamas outside the Palestinian political system. With regard to Hamas’s goal, 38% say it is to integrate itself into the political system on the basis of equality with Fateh and other factions and 29% say the goal is destroy Fateh’s political, military, financial, and social power; 12% say the goal of Hamas is to control the Palestinian political system and marginalize Fateh and other forces, and anther 12% say the goal is to control the Palestinian political system and eliminate Fateh politically.
Findings also indicate the 60% believe that neither Fateh nor Hamas are able to unilaterally settle the conflict in its favor by military or political means and therefore they need dialogue while 22% say that the conflict between the two factions can not be settled unilaterally or even through dialogue. But the largest percentage (56%) believes that dialogue between Fateh and Hamas will fail and only 40% believe it will succeed. In light of this, 27% believe that unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will never resume while only 19% believe it will resume soon. A majority of 51% believes that unity will resume but only after a long time. In our September 2007 poll, only 20% believed that separation between the two Palestinian territories will become permanent and 29% believed unity will be resumed within months.
With regard to the debate between Fateh and Hamas on the terms of reconciliation, 46% tend to support Hamas’s position on the electoral system, preferring a mixed one as proposed by Hamas while 39% tend to support Fateh’s position, preferring a fully proportional representation system as proposed by Fateh. By contrast, 50% support Fateh’s position which insists that the program of national unity government must accept all previous agreement signed between Israel and the PLO while 44% tend to support Hamas’s position which rejects this condition.
Findings show that Abbas’s popularity improves slightly. If new presidential elections were held today and the two candidates were Mahmud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, the former receives 49% of the vote and the latter 44%. In the Gaza Strip Abbas wins with 53% of the vote compared to 42% for Haniyeh. Three months ago, Abbas received 45% and Haniyeh 47%. It is worth noting that immediately after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in mid 2007, 59% said they would vote for Abbas and only 36% said they would vote for Haniyeh. But if the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former wins the presidency with 64% of the vote compared to 32% for Haniyeh. These results are similar to those we obtained three months ago and those obtained in September 2007 after the Hamas violent takeover of the Gaza Strip.
42% say that Abbas is the legitimate president today and 43% say they are satisfied with his performance while 54% say they are dissatisfied. 41% describe the performance of Haniyeh’s government as good or very good while 32% describe the performance of Fayyad’s government as good or very good. However, only 10% describe conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as good or very good while 31% describe conditions in the West Bank as good or very good.
If legislative elections were to take place today with the participation of all the lists that participated in the last elections, 33% say they would vote for the Reform and Change list of Hamas while 41% say they would vote for Fateh. All other lists would receive 9% while 18% remain undecided. Vote for Fateh and Hamas is identical with that registered three months ago. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas’s popularity stands at 35% compared to 46% for Fateh. In the West Bank, Hamas stands at 31% compared to 37% for Fateh. With regard to public expectations of election results, 39% say Fateh will win and 28% say Hamas will win.
With regard to the performance of various actors during the Gaza war, Hamas receives the highest positive rating (51%) followed by Haniyeh’s government (46%), Iran (41%), Syria (34%), Fateh (34%), president Abbas (25%), Fayyad’s government (23%), and finally Egypt (22%).
13% of the public say they have been victims of attacks or robbery by other Palestinians during the past year. Among those, 43% say they have submitted a complaint to the police and security services and 56% say they did not. 35% of those who did not submit a complaint say the reason they did not submit one is that they do not trust the police while 44% say the police can not do any thing to help them. 26% of those who did submit a complaint say they were satisfied with the police work in the investigation to uncover the circumstances of the crime while 73% say they were not satisfied. The percentage of those who have been attacked or victimized during the past year is higher in the Gaza Strip (17%) than the West Bank (10%) but the percentage of those who submitted complaints is higher in the West Bank (50%) than in the Gaza Strip (36%). Nonetheless, the level of distrust in the police among those who did not submit a complaint is higher in the West Bank (41%) than in the Gaza Strip (30%). The levels of satisfaction with the performance of the police among those who submitted a complaint are similar in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Only 33% of the public believe that Fateh’s Sixth party congress will be held in July as announced, 42% say it will be postponed, and 14% say it will never be held. With regard to the venue, 34% prefer holding the congress in the Palestinian territories while only 21% prefer holding it outside. 36% prefer holding it inside and outside through a video link. If during the congress Fateh selected its head, 34% would prefer the election of Marwan Barghouti and 16% would prefer electing Mahmud Abbas. On their expectations regarding who will lead Fateh in the future, the public is evenly divided with 46% believing the leaders will come from the young guard and 45% believing they will come from the old guard.
(2) Peace Process
67% believe that it is not possible these days to reach a permanent peace agreement with Israel and 30% believe it is possible
69% believe that the chances for establishing an independent Palestinian state next to the state of Israel in the next five years are slim to non-existent and 28% believe it medium or high
61% support the two-state solution, 23% support the one-state solution, and 9% support other solutions
78% prefer a comprehensive peace settlement rather than an interim one and 18% prefer an interim settlement
50% accept a mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for Palestinian people after all issues of the conflict have been resolved
57% support the Arab (or Saudi) Peace Initiative and 40% oppose it
51% support and 46% oppose launching rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli communities across the border inside Israel
43% believe that an Iranian acquirement of nuclear arms would have a positive impact on the Arab region and 33% believe it would have a negative impact
Findings indicate a continued slide toward pessimism among Palestinians regarding the chances for peace. A majority of 70% believes that it is impossible to reach a permanent peace agreement with the new Netanyahu government while only 27% believe it is possible. Similarly, 69% believe that the chances for establishing an independent Palestinian state within the next five years are slim to non existent and 28% believe the chances are medium or high. In general, two thirds say that it is impossible these days to reach a permanent peace while only 30% think it is possible.
Findings also show that one third of the Palestinians believe that reaching an agreement on a two-state solution is more difficult than reaching an agreement on a one-state solution while a slightly larger percentage (35%) believes that reaching an agreement on a one-state solution is more difficult and 29% say the two solutions pose similar difficulties. A majority of 61% says that regardless of which negotiation is more difficult, it prefers the two-state solution while only 23% say they support the one state solution. When asking respondents about their preferences, the two state solution was presented as one based on the establishment of a Palestinian state along side Israel and the one-state solution was presented as one in which Israel is unified with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to establish one state whereby Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews would be equal. Support for the one-state solution is equal in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But it increases slightly among residents of refugee camps (28%) compared to residents of cities (23%), among men (26%) compared to women (21), among holders of BA degree (27%) compared to illiterates (18%), among supporters of Hamas (27%) compared to supporters of Fateh (20%) and among supporters of the peace process (28%) compared to those opposed to the peace process (22%).
The overwhelming majority of Palestinians (78%) supports a comprehensive peace settlement, one that lead to permanent peace and end of conflict and resolution of all issues while 18% prefer an interim settlement, one in which a Palestinian state is established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while postponing issues such as refugees. Within the context of a comprehensive settlement and after the establishment of a Palestinian state and the resolution of all issues, 50% say they would accept and 49% say they would reject a mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people. These results indicate a decline in the support for this mutual recognition of identity. The highest level of support (66%) was recorded in March 2006, in out poll #19, but has since declined.
Findings also show that 57% support and 40% oppose the Arab (or Saudi) peace initiative. The initiative, as presented to the respondents, calls for an Arab recognition of Israel and the signing of peace agreement and normalization of relations with it after it ends its occupation of Arab lands occupied in 1967 and after the establishment of a Palestinian state and the resolution of the refugee problem in a just and agreed upon settlement based on UN resolution 194.
Despite the support for the two-state solution, the Saudi initiative, and the mutual recognition of identity, a majority of 51% supports and 46% oppose the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli communities inside Israel. Pessimism regarding the future of peace or changing conditions of boycott and closure imposed on the Gaza Strip seems to influence attitudes regarding violence. For example, support for the launching of rockets reaches 59% among those who believe that the chances for establishing a Palestinian state in the next 5 years are non existent; but it drops considerably to 38% among those believe the chances are high.
Similarly, 43% believe that an Iranian attainment of nuclear capacity would have a positive impact on the region while 33% believe it will have a negative impact. As in the previous example, a larger percentage of pessimists, reaching 52%, believes that a nuclearized Iran would have a positive impact while only 30% of the optimists regarding the chances for a Palestinian state during the next five years tend to view a nuclear Iran positively..... Full Report