With Optimism Fading, and Three Months After the Completion of the Israeli Unilateral Disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Support for a Permanent Settlement along the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva Initiative Drops, but a Large Majority Continues to Support the Hudna and Fateh’s Popularity Increases
6-8 December 2005
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 between December 6-8, 2005. The poll deals with the “tahdi’a” or calm, Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, agreement on border crossings, permanent status agreement, bombing attacks in Amman hotels, and voting intentions in the upcoming legislative elections. Total size of the sample is 1316 adults interviewed face to face in the West Bank (840) and the Gaza Strip (476) in 118 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 show that one year after the death of Yasir Arafat and three months after the implementation of Sharon’s unilateral plan for disengagement, optimism which prevailed a year ago is now fading. Expectations that violence will stop and negotiations will resume soon drop by more than one third while the percentage of those who believe that violence will not stop and there will be no return to negotiations increases by more than 50%. Belief that a political settlement with Israel is impossible and that reconciliation between the two peoples is not possible ever has deepened. Expectations that internal and security conditions will improve are not being met as the percentage of those who feel that they lack personal safety and security is increasing. Similarly, percentage of those who believe corruption exists in the PA remains very high.
The implications of the Israeli unilateral disengagement are being strongly felt. Belief that disengagement is victory for armed struggle increases while at the same time most people view the Gaza Strip as a big prison and that conditions inside the Strip are now the same or worse than they were before the Israeli withdrawal. The greatest impact of the unilateral withdrawal and the widespread belief that it was the outcome of Palestinian armed resistance is felt on public support for a permanent settlement along the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva Initiative. Support for the compromises of this settlement has dropped considerably in this poll compared to the situation one year ago when a majority of Palestinians supported it. Apparently, some Palestinians are no longer convinced of the need to compromise as long as Israel is intent on ending its occupation unilaterally. Despite the fact that these developments do not apparently weaken support for Fateh, they do considerably increase support for Hamas. Compared to a year ago, support for Hamas has increased by about 55%.
(1) Peace Process and Permanent Settlement
- · Support for a permanent settlement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters drops from 54% in December 2004 to 46% in this poll
- · Drop in support for the permanent settlement is significant in all items including borders, refugees, Jerusalem, sovereignty, security arrangements, and end of conflict
Palestinian support for a permanent settlement agreement similar to that of the December 2000 Clinton Parameters, the January 2001 Taba Talks, and the Geneva Initiative drops from 54% one year ago to 46% in this poll. 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—drops from 63% to 55%. 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—drops from 46% to 40%. 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 – drops from 44% to 33%. Support for the item on the establishment of a Palestinian state that has no army drops from 27% to 20%. Support for the item on security arrangements – which would allow Israel to use Palestinian airspace and maintain two early warning stations in Palestinian territories – drops from 53% to 43%. 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 – drops from 69% to 64%.
(2) Israeli Withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Agreement on Border Crossings
- · 83% see the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as victory for armed struggle, but support for armed attacks from the Gaza Strip does not exceed 36%
- · 52% see the Israeli withdrawal as the beginning of the end of occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state and 46% do not agree
- · Only 45% evaluate the situation in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal as better, 53% say it has not changed or has become worse, and 55% sees the Gaza Strip as a big prison
- · 56% oppose and 41% support the agreement made with Israel on the operation of the Rafah international crossing
The overwhelming majority of Palestinians view the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a victory for armed struggle against the Israeli occupation and 17% do not agree with that. Moreover, more than two thirds (68%) believe that armed confrontations during the intifada have helped achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not while only 29% do not agree with that.
Despite this assessment of the role of violence, the percentage of those supporting armed attacks from the Gaza Strip does not exceed 36% while 60% oppose it. Opposition to such attacks increases to 66% in the Gaza Strip compared to 57% in the West Bank. Findings also show that support for armed attacks against Israeli civilians does not exceed 40% with opposition standing at 58%. Moreover, 62% of all Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip oppose, and 33% support bombing attacks or the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip.
The public is divided in its evaluation of the implication of the Israeli withdrawal on the national goal of ending occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state: 52% see the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a beginning for achieving that goal and 46% do not agree with that. Moreover, only 45% evaluate the situation in the Gaza Strip after disengagement as better than before, 28% see it unchanged, and 25% see it worse. Specifically, while only 3o% say that the Gaza Strip has become free and open, 55% say it has become a big prison and 11% see no change.
This negative outlook applies also to the performance of the PA in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the Israeli withdrawal. 55% see this performance as remaining unchanged compared to PA performance under Israeli occupation or becoming worse and 40% evaluate the performance of the PA as better than before. This negative evaluation is also evident in the opposition of 56% and the support of 41% to the Rafah Crossing’s agreement. Opposition to the agreement is clear when it comes to European presence with only 40% supporting such presence and 58% opposing it. Despite this, 58% say the agreement strengthens Palestinian sovereignty; 37% disagree with that.
The public sees the future in negative terms with regard to control of border crossings and settlements in the West Bank. Only one third expects, and 62% do not expect, Israel to continue to implement the agreement on the crossings. Similarly, the majority (58%) expects and 13% do not expect, Israel to close the Rafah crossing if bombing attacks or rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip. Moreover, despite the fact that 59% expect, and 36% do not expect, Israel to carry out a further unilateral disengagement steps from other areas in the West Bank in the future, only 42% expect the evacuation of most or some settlements in the West Bank and 45% expect Israel to build more settlements.
(3) Calm, Collection of Arms, and Optimism about the Future
- · 80% support and 18% oppose the extension of the current “Tahdi’a” or calm
- · 47% support the collection of arms from armed factions and 51% oppose it. In the Gaza Strip, support for collection of arms reaches 54%
- · But support for collection of arms from armed factions in the Gaza Strip only reaches 63%
- · 82% support and 17% oppose the merging of armed militias into the PA security services
- · Level of optimism continues to drop
Finding show strong support for the continuation of the calm with 80% support and 18% opposition. Moreover, a similar percentage (75%) supports, and 23% oppose, the current ceasefire. Percentages of support for extending the “calm” period and for the ceasefire are larger in the Gaza Strip (86% and 77% respectively) than in the West Bank (77% and 74% respectively). But findings show that a majority of 51% opposes the collection of arms from armed groups in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and 47% support it. When it comes to collection of arms from armed groups in the Gaza Strip only, overall support increases to 63% and opposition drops to 34%. Support for collection of arms from armed groups in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is greater in the Gaza Strip (54%) than in the West Bank (43%). In the Gaza Strip, support for collection of arms from Gazan armed groups reaches 68% compared to 61% in the West Bank. Support for collection of arms from the Gaza Strip increases among supporters of Fateh (78%) compared to supporters of Hamas (41%) and among those who are willing to buy lottery tickets (79%) compare to those who are not willing to do so (46%).
A large majority of 82% supports and 17% oppose the absorption of members of armed groups from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fateh into the Palestinian security services so that they would become part of the PA. Support for this measure reaches 84% in the Gaza Strip compared to 80% in the West Bank.
Findings show a significant decrease in the level of optimism regarding the possibility of a return to negotiations and cessation of violence in the near future from 25% in June to 19% in this poll. One year ago, this percentage stood at 30%.
(4) Bombing Attacks in Amman’s Hotels
- · 88% oppose and 9% support the bombing attacks that took place in Amman hotels in Jordan in November 2005
- · 78% view these attacks as criminal acts condemned by Islam and 10% view it as martyrdom attacks
88% of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip oppose, and 9% support, the bombing attacks that took place in Amman hotels last November. 78% see these attacks as criminal acts condemned by Islam while 10% see them as martyrdom operations supported by Islam. Belief that these attacks are martyrdom acts is greater in the Gaza Strip (14%) than in the West Bank (8%), among men (12%) than women (8%), among students (20%) compared to housewives (7%) and laborers (8%), among the unmarried (17%) compared to the married (9%), among the youngest (18%) compared to the oldest (4%), and among supporters of Hamas (18%) compared to supporters of Fateh (7%).
(5) Upcoming Legislative Elections and Other Domestic Issues
- · 78% say they will participate in the upcoming legislative elections, and among those, 50% say they will vote for Fateh, 32% say they will vote for Hamas, 9% for other lists, and 9% are undecided
- · 37% view poverty and unemployment as the most pressing problem facing Palestinians today followed by the practices of Israeli occupation forces and the spread of corruption (25% each)
- · Satisfaction with the performance of Abu Mazin stands at 62% and dissatisfaction 34%
- · Popularity of Marwan Barghouti reaches 30% as vice president, followed by Dahlan (14%), Ismail Hanyieh (13%), and Mahmud Zahhar (11%)
- · Popularity of Fateh stands at 45% and Islamists 35%
- · 86% believe there is corruption in the PA
If elections are held today, findings show that 78% of the Palestinians would participate (compared to 74% last September). Among those intending to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, 50% will vote for Fateh, 32% for Hamas, 9% for other factions and groups including independents, and 9% remain undecided. Last September, Fateh received 47% of the vote, while Hamas received 30%, other factions 11%, and 11% were undecided. In the Gaza Strip, vote for Fateh increases from 47% to 53% during the same period. Among the whole population (those intending and those not intending to participate in the elections), support for Fateh reaches 45% and Hamas 28%. Last September, support for Fateh stood at 39% and Hamas at 27%. Support for Fateh in the Gaza Strip increases from 40% to 49% during the same period.
Poverty/unemployment is the most serious problem confronting Palestinians today in the eyes of 37% of the public, followed by corruption and Israeli occupation measures (25% each), and finally internal anarchy and chaos (12%). Last September, poverty/unemployment received 40%, occupation and corruption received 25% each, and internal anarchy received 8%. From among a list of eight vital considerations for voting in the parliamentary elections, # 1 is the ability to fight corruption receiving 30%, # 2 the name or party affiliation of the list with 15%, # 3 and 4 ability to improve economic conditions and ability to reach a peace agreement with Israel with 13% each, # 5 ability to maintain national unity with 9%, # 6 ability to enforce law and order with 8%, # 7 ability to protect refugees’ rights in negotiations with 7%, and finally # 8 ability to insure continuation of the intifada with 4%. This order is similar to the September findings with the exception of the first consideration which three months ago received 24%.
In a detailed comparison of the ability of the different groups to deliver on seven of the vital voters’ considerations, Fateh is seen as the most able in five and Hamas in two. These results are similar to those we obtained last September with Fateh widening the gap against Hamas in its favor. Fateh is perceived as the most able to improve the economy (receiving 50% vs. 30% for Hamas), to push the peace process forward (receiving 66% vs. 21% for Hamas), to protect national unity (receiving 47% vs. 36% for Hamas), to protect refugees’ rights (receiving 48% vs. 36% for Hamas), and to enforce law and order (receiving 56% vs. 31% for Hamas). Hamas is perceived as the most able to fight corruption (receiving 48% vs. 36% to Fateh) and to insure the continuation of the intifada (receiving 64% vs. 24% to Fateh).
Public satisfaction with the performance of PA president Mahmud Abbas stands at 62% compared to 64% last September. In this survey 34% say they are not satisfied with Abbas’ performance. In a closed question, in a contest for the office of PA president between Mahmud Abbas, Mahmud Zahhar, and Mustafa Barghouti, Abbas comes first with 41% followed by Zahhar with 21% and Barghouti with 19%. These results are similar to those obtained in our last poll in September. In another closed question with a list of 8 candidates, in a contest over the office of vice president, Marwan Barghouti receives the greatest level of support with 30% followed by Mohammad Dahlan with 14%, Ismail Haniyyah (13%), Mahmud Zahhar (11%), Mustafa Barghouti (8%), Saeb Erikat and Farouq Qaddoumi (6% each), and finally Ahmad Qurai (3%). The percentages for the September poll were as follows: 24% for Marwan Barghouti, 9% for Dahlan, 13% for Haniyyah, 14% for Zahhar, 9% for Mustafa Barghouti, 6% for Erikat, 8% for Qaddoumi, and 6% for Qurai. In a closed question with a list of five candidates, in a contest over the office of prime minister, Marwan Barghouti comes first with 36% followed by Zahhar with 20%, Mustafa Barghouti with 14%, Dahlan with 11%, and Qurai with 6%. Last September, Marwan Barghouti received 30%, Zahhar 22%, Mustafa Barghouti 17%, Dahlan 8%, and Qurai 8%.
Findings show that 86% believe corruption exists in the PA; among those, 58% expect corruption to increase or remain the same in the future. The poll also shows only 35% feel they and their families are safe and secure and 64% do not feel that. Positive evaluation of Palestinian democracy reaches 35%..... Full Report