In an Environment of Increased Pessimism, Greater Support for Violence and Decreased Support for a Permanent Status Agreement Similar to the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva Document, Three Quarters Agree with the Prisoners’ Document, but only 47% would Actually Vote for it if a Referendum is to Take Place Today
15-18 June 2006
These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during June 15-18, 2006. The poll deals with the prisoners’ document and the referendum on the document, permanent settlement, peace process and violence, and domestic balance of power. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in the West Bank (830) and the Gaza Strip (440) 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 indicate the development of two contradictory domestic dynamics accompanied by an increase in the level of pessimism about the long and short term future, an increase in the level of support for violence, and a decrease in the support for a permanent status agreement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters, Taba negotiations, and the Geneva Initiative. Findings show the development of an internal consensus on the prisoners’ document with about three quarters supporting its contents as a package. The fact that the document has been the product of an inclusive consultation among prominent prisoners of all the factions may have contributed to its acceptance. Traditionally, prisoners have been subject on internal consensus.
Parallel to this consensus however, polarization is evident in the way the public views the call for a referendum on the same prisoners’ document and the voting intentions in that referendum if it is to take place. In other words, despite public acceptance of the ideas in the document, about half do not intend to vote for it in a referendum if one is to actually be conducted. This finding shows that Hamas has successfully managed to frame the referendum to the public in highly negative terms, as an attempt by PA president Mahmud Abbas to bypass the will of the voters, to marginalize the legislature and the cabinet, and capitulation to international pressure.
But Hamas’ success remains limited. It has failed to prevent the development of the consensus indicated above with regard to the prisoners’ document, and it has lost significant public support compared to the situation three months ago. The loss of popular support may reflect public disappointment with Hamas’ response to the prisoners’ document; it may not necessarily reflect public discontent over Hamas’ inability to deliver vital services. It is possible that the loss of Hamas’ popularity may have more to do with the shift in the source of pressure on that group. When the pressure was external – coming from the Quartet with its conditions and financial sanctions—Hamas gained greater public support. But when pressure became internal – in the form of the prisoners’ document and the apparent consensus of the various factions—Hamas lost some of its popularity.
Findings also indicate a decline in the level of short term and long term optimism and an increase in threat perception. Support for armed attacks against Israeli civilians continues to rise. In fact, findings show that support for bombing attacks has more than doubled compared to the situation nine months ago. This development is also reflected in the continued decrease in the level of support for a permanent status agreement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva Initiative. This decrease was first detected in the aftermath of the Sharon’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
(1) Prisoners’ Document and Referendum
- 74% support the National Conciliation Document and 23% oppose it
- Support for the document’s articles ranges between 62% and 85%
- But support for holding a referendum does not exceed 53% while opposition reaches 43%
- Despite support for the substance of the document, only 47% would actually vote for it if a referendum is to be held and 44% would vote against it
- If Hamas rejects the document after it was approved in a referendum, 65% would support taking steps against it
- If President Abbas refuses the formation of a national unity government based on Hamas’ program after the document was rejected in a referendum, 39% would call for his resignation
Findings show that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians (74%) supports the national conciliation document, also known as the prisoners’ document, as one package and 23% oppose it. Support for the main items of the document ranges between 62% and 85% and opposition ranges between 13% and 34%. The greatest support (85%) goes to the three items dealing with: goal of establishing an independent Palestinians state in the areas occupied in 1967 with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital, right of return, and freeing of prisoners in accordance with international legitimacy, Hamas and Islamic Jihad would join the PLO based on proportional representation, a national unity government based on the national conciliation document and a joint program would be established with the participation of Fateh and Hamas. Slightly less support (73%) goes to the item that concentrate resistance to Israeli occupation to areas occupied since 1967, 70% support the item that calls for the acceptance of international and Arab legitimacy, 69% support the item that asserts that the PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people wherever they are located, and 62% support the item that asserts that Negotiations with Israel is the responsibility of the PLO and the president of the PA and agreements reached should be submitted to a vote in the PLO National Council or to a referendum.
But support for the conduct of a referendum on the prisoners’ document is much less than the support for the document itself with 53% in favor and 43% opposed. Moreover, despite the overwhelming support for the prisoners’ document, if the referendum is to take place today, only 47% would vote in favor of it and 44% would vote against it. 9% remain undecided. Only 56% agrees that PA president Mahmud Abbas has the right to call for a referendum on the prisoners’ document and 38% do not agree. And if Hamas called for a boycott of the referendum, 44% would boycott it and 50% would participate in it.
If the referendum was conducted and a majority approved the document, 67% believe that the Hamas government would still reject the document and 23% believe it would accept it. If the Hamas government rejects the document after a majority voted in favor of it in the referendum, 65% would support the taking of steps against it such as reducing its powers and jurisdiction (17%), dismissal of the government and the formation of an emergency government (14%), or the dismissal of government and the dissolution of the parliament and the holding of new elections (33%)
If the referendum was conducted and a majority rejected the document, 60% believe that PA president and Fateh would not accept Hamas’ program and would not form a national unity government based on that program, but 31% believe they would do so. If PA president and Fateh refuse to form a national unity government based on Hamas’ program after a majority rejected the prisoners’ document in the referendum, 61% would in this case support either the reduction of the powers and responsibilities of the president (22%) or his resignation (39%).
(2) Peace Process and support for Violence
- 61% would support and 36% would oppose a mutual recognition of identity after reaching a political settlement and the resolution of all issues of the conflict
- 52% support and 43% oppose the Quartet Road Map and 58% support collection of arms from armed factions today
- 71% would support reconciliation between the two peoples after reaching a peace agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian state
- But 49% believe that reconciliation will never be possible and only 13% expect the two sides to return to negotiations and violence to stop
- 70% believe that Hamas should negotiate with Israel and 26% believe it should not
- Significant increase in the level of support for violence against Israeli civilians
A majority of 61% agrees and 36% disagree with the proposal that after reaching a permanent agreement to all issues of the conflict with Israel, there would be a mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people. Only 54% of the Palestinians however believe that a majority of Palestinians supports such a proposal and 34% think a majority opposes it.
A majority of 52% supports and 43% oppose the Road Map. In this context, 58%, the highest since the Road Map became public, support and 39% oppose collection of arms from Palestinian armed factions as mandated by the Road Map. Moreover, if the collection of arms were restricted to the Gaza Strip, support would increase to 70% and opposition would drop to 27%. Support for the current ceasefire, another requirement of the Road Map, reaches 71% and opposition 27%.
When a permanent status agreement is reached and a Palestinian state is established and recognized by Israel, 71% would support reconciliation between the two peoples and 27% would oppose it. From among various reconciliation steps, 85% would support open border to free movement of people and goods, 74% would support the creation of joint economic institutions and ventures, 37% would support the creation of joint political institutions designed eventually to lead to a confederation between the two states, 33% would support taking legal measures against incitement against Israelis, and 10% would support adopting a school curriculum that recognizes Israel and teaches school children not to demand return of all Palestine to the Palestinians. At the personal level, 32% would under conditions of peace invite an Israeli colleague to visit in their homes and a similar percentage would visit an Israeli colleague in his or her home.
After reaching a peace agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian state, belief that reconciliation between the two peoples will be achieved within the next few years or the next generation stands at 26% while 49% believe that reconciliation is not possible ever. Moreover, 51% believe that a political settlement with Israel is impossible while only 23% believe that such a settlement is possible within the next few years or the next generation.
With regard to short term expectations, only 13% expect the two sides to go back to negotiations and that armed confrontations would stop. On the other hand 39% believe that armed confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations. 38% believe that the two sides will return to negotiations but some armed confrontations will continue.
A majority of 70% thinks that if Israel agrees to enter peace negotiation with Hamas, the Islamist group should agree to do so and 26% think that it should not. In March, 75% said Hamas should enter peace negotiations with Israel if it agrees to do so. Despite this, two thirds in this poll believe that Hamas should not accept international demands regarding recognition of Israel as a precondition for continued donor support for the Palestinian Authority and 30% believe it should. Belief that Hamas should accept international demands reached 37% and belief that it should not reached 59% last March.
Support for armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel continues to rise. Today 56% support it and 42% oppose it. Support for such attacks stood at 52% last March and 40% last December while opposition stood at 45% and 58% respectively. Similarly, findings show that support for the bombing attack that took place last April stood at 69% and opposition at 27%. Support in September 2005 for the last suicide attack before the one in April, the one that took place in August 2005, stood at 37% and opposition at 56%. It is worth mentioning that this poll was conducted during the period in which Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip led to a high number of casualties among Palestinian civilians at a Gaza beach and in populated areas. But while findings show a significant increase in support for violence against Israelis based on emotional drivers, a significant drop has been registered in this poll in the percentage of those who believe that armed confrontations have helped Palestinians achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not from 69% last March to 54% in this poll.
(3) Permanent Status Agreement
- Support for a permanent status agreement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters, the Taba Talks, and the Geneva Initiative continues to drop compared to the situation 6 months and 18 months ago: 44% support this agreement today and 53% oppose it
- A majority of 54% supports the compromise on permanent borders and 58% support the item on end of conflict
- Support for the compromise on refugees reaches 41% and Jerusalem 35%
- Support for the item on creating a state without an army reaches 25% and the item on Israeli use of Palestinian airspace and control of two early warning stations in Palestinian territories reaches 40%
Support for a package of a permanent status deal similar in various degrees to the Clinton Parameters, the Taba negotiations, and the Geneva Initiative reaches 44% and opposition 53%. Support for this solution stood at 54% in December 2004 but went down to 46% one year later in December 2005. 43% of the Palestinians believe that a majority of Palestinians supports this solution and 44% believe a majority opposes it. Moreover, 39% of the Palestinians believe that a majority of Israelis supports this solution and 46% believe that a majority of Israelis opposes it.
Support for the item on final borders, which would be based on the 1967 lines except for about 3% of the West Bank which would be exchanged with an Israeli territory of equal size, reaches 54%. Support for this item stood at 63% in December 2004 and 55% in December 2005.
Support for the item on refugees, which would be based on UNGA resolution 194 while giving refugees five different options for permanent residency with return to Israel being subject to Israeli decision, reaches 41%. Support for this item stood at 46% in December 2004 and 40% in December 2005.
Support for the item on Jerusalem, which would make East Jerusalem capital of the Palestinian state but would put Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, reaches 35%. Support for this item stood at 44% in December 2004 and 33% in December 2005.
Support for the item on the establishment of a Palestinian state that has no army but with an international force deployed in it reaches 25%. Support for this item stood at 27% in December 2004 and 20% in December 2005.
Support for the item on security arrangements, which would allow Israel to use Palestinian airspace and maintain two early warning stations in Palestinian territories, reaches 40%. Support for this item stood at 53% in December 2004 and 43% in December 2005.
Support for the item on ending the conflict once the permanent status agreement is implemented, which would allow neither side to make further claims and would require both sides to acknowledge that Palestine and Israel are the homelands of their peoples, reaches 58%. Support for this item stood at 69% in December 2004 and 64% in December 2005.
(4) Domestic Balance of Power and Other Domestic Issues
- If new parliamentary elections are held today, Fateh and Hamas would receive 39% each; 13% are undecided
- Satisfaction with the performance of president Abbas drops from 61% to 53% in three months
- Poverty and unemployment is the most important problem confronting Palestinians according to 33% followed by the practices of Israeli occupation according to 26%
- 86% believe that there is corruption in the PA and 82% say they lack personal safety and security
About five months after the parliamentary elections, the gap between Fateh and Hamas narrows to zero. If new elections are held today Fateh’s list would receive the support of 39%, Change and Reform 39%, and all other lists 9%. 13% remain undecided. Three months ago, the gap between Fateh and Hamas stood at 8 percentage points in favor of Hamas with 47% voting for Change and Reform and 39% for Fateh.
Satisfaction with the performance of Mahmud Abbas drops from 61% last March to 53% in this poll. If new elections are held, 30% say they would vote for Abbas, 14% for current prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, 4% for Marwan Barghouti, and 2% each for Mahmud Zahhar, Mustafa Barghouti, and Khalid Misha’al. 38% say they do not know to whom they would give their vote. In a vote for a vice president, the percentage of undecided is 49% while 8% say it will vote for Ismail Haniyeh, 7% for Mahmud Zahhar, 6% for Dahlan, 5% for Marwan Barghouti, 3% for Saeb Erikat, and 2% each for Farouq Qaddumi and Mustafa Barghouti. The two questions on vote intentions were open questions, with no list of names provided.
The largest percentage of Palestinians, 33%, puts poverty and unemployment on top of Palestinian problems today followed by continuation of the Israeli occupation (26%), spread of corruption and lack of reforms (22%), and finally internal anarchy (17%). Last March, the percentage of those who selected poverty and corruption reached 44% and internal anarchy 7%.
Percentage of those who believe that corruption exists in the PA stands at 86% while the percentage of those who believe that corruption will increase or remain the same in the future stands at 51%. Last March, percentage of those who believe that corruption will stay the same or increase in the future stood at only 29%.
Percentage of those who say their personal security and safety are assured stands at 18% while those who say they lack them stand at 82%. Last March, percentage of those who said their safety and security are assured stood at 25%. In this context, 48% support and an identical percentage oppose the deployment of the paramilitary unit established by the minister of interior in the Gaza Strip. A larger percentage (64%) opposes, and 32% support the deployment of a similar force established by Fateh in the cities of Jenin and Tulkarm. A majority of 62% blames both Fateh and Hamas for the internal shooting incidents in the Gaza Strip in which armed men and civilians were killed while 15% blame Fateh, 11% blame Hamas, and 9% blame neither. The overwhelming majority (86%) supports the integration of the members of the armed groups belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fateh into the PA security services while 13% oppose that.
Positive evaluation of Palestinian democracy drops from 34% last March to 28% in this poll.
Support for the various factions among the total population, not just those intending to vote, shows equal support for Fateh (34%) and Hamas (33%). But support for all the Islamists reaches 37% and support for all other factions stands at 8%. 21% say they do not support any of the existing factions.....Full Report