WITH ARAFAT’S POPULAIRTY REACHING ITS HIGHEST LEVEL IN FIVE YEARS, THREE QUEATERS OF THE PALESTINIANS SUPPORT THE MAXIM RESTURANT SUICIDE BOMBING AND TWO THIRDS BELIEVE THE ROADMAP IS DEAD. NONETHELESS, AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF 85% SUPPORT MUTUAL CESSATION OF VIOLENCE, TWO THIRDS SUPPORT RETURN TO HUDNA, AND 59% SUPPORT TAKING MEASURES AGAINST THOSE WHO WOULD VIOLATE A CEASEFIRE
07-14 October 2003
These are the results of opinion poll # 9, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) between 07-14 October 2003. The poll deals with Arafat’s popularity and other domestic issues, peace and security, public perception of the United States, and local elections. The total sample size of this poll is 1318 from Palestinians 18 years and older, interviewed face-to-face in West Bank (823) and in Gaza Strip (495), in 120 locations. The margin of error is 3%.
For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki or Ayoub Mustafa at Tel 02-2964933 or email email@example.com
SUMMARY OF RESULTS:
The results of this poll point to a degree of contradictions in Palestinian public attitudes toward domestic political issues as well as issues of peace and security. The results show a large increase in Arafat’s popularity not seen during the last five years. They also show widespread support for his decision to declare a state of emergency and to appoint Ahmad Qurai’ as a prime minister. In addition, 60% support placing all Palestinian security services under the control of a national security council headed by Arafat. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of Palestinians believe the increase in support for Arafat is due to Sharon’s recent threats against him. Moreover, more than 90% still support internal and external calls for extensive political reforms in the PA and 82% still believe that corruption exists in the PA.
In the realm of peace and security, the findings show widespread support, reaching 75%, for the suicide attack at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, where 20 Israelis were killed. More than two thirds believe that the Roadmap is dead and 78% believe that current Israeli measures, including the building of the separation wall, reduces that chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the future. Nonetheless, almost two thirds support a return to the Hunda, 85% support mutual cessation of violence, and, for the first time since the establishment of the PA, 59% support taking measures to prevent attacks on Israelis after reaching an agreement on mutual cessation of violence. Furthermore, about two thirds still support a solution based on two states: Israel and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
(1) Arafat and Palestinian Domestic Conditions:
- Arafat’s popularity increases from 35% last June to 50% in this poll. This is his highest level of support in five years.
- About 80% of Palestinians believe that Arafat has become stronger and more popular due to Israeli threat to expel or assassinate him.
- Two thirds support Arafat’s declaration of state of emergency while 26% oppose it
- 61% support the appointment of Ahmad Qurai (Abu Ala’) as prime minister and 27% oppose it, but only 48% are willing, and 37% unwilling, to give confidence to his government.
- 60% support placing all Palestinian security services under the command of a national security council headed by Arafat.
- 46% believe that Abu Ala’ and his government will be more capable than Abu Mazin and his government in dealing with Arafat and the presidency; only 12% believe in the opposite.
- But only 22% believe that Abu Ala’ and his government will be more capable than Abu Mazin and his government in reaching an agreement with Israel; 23% believe in the opposite.
- While 62% believe that Abu Ala’ and his government will be able to return to negotiations with Israel, only 33% believe they will be able to control the security situation and enforce a ceasefire. 44% believe they will be able to carry out political reforms.
- Fall of Abu Mazin and his government is the equal responsibility of Arafat and Israel (27% each). Only 17% put the blame on Abu Mazin himself.
- 32% are satisfied with the reform steps taken by Abu Mazin and 54% are not satisfied
- 90% support internal and external calls for extensive political reforms.
- 82% believe there is corruption in the PA and 71% believe that corruption will increase or remain the same in the future.
- Popularity of Fateh increases slightly from 26% last June to 28% in this poll. Hamas’ popularity remains almost unchanged (21%). Total support for Islamists reaches 29% compared to 31% last June.
- Marwan Barghouti remains the most popular Palestinian figure for the position of vice president 17%, followed by Abdul Aziz Rantisi (14% compared to 3% in an open-ended question last June), Sa’eb Erikat (9%), Ahmad Yasin and Haidar Abdul Shafi (7% each), Farouq Qaddoumi and Hanan Ashrawi (5% each), Ahmad Quarie’ (4%), Mohammad Dahlan (2%), and Mahmoud Abbas (1%).
One of the main results of this poll is the large increase in Arafat’s popularity rising to 50%. This is the highest level of support for Arafat in five years. Arafat’s popularity stood at 35% last June, which is the average percentage for Arafat’s popularity during the three years of the intifada. The majority of the Palestinian public (79%) believes that the Israeli threats to expel or assassinate Mr. Arafat has made him stronger and more popular. The findings also show that Arafat’s decisions to declare a state of emergency, appoint Ahmad Quarai’ (Abu Ala’) as prime minister, and to put the security services under the control of a national security council headed by Mr. Arafat enjoy popular support (66%, 61%, and 60% respectively).
But the street is reluctant to support Abu Ala’s government, with only 48% willing to give it a vote of confidence. In a comparison between Abu Ala’ and his government and Abu Mazin and his government, regarding the ability to deal with Arafat and the office of the presidency, the street tends to believe that Abu Ala is better able to do so. When it comes to reaching an agreement with Israel, the street sees no difference between the two.
Despite the increase in support for Arafat, the overwhelming majority (90%) still supports internal and external calls for wide scale political reforms in the PA and 82% still believes that corruption exists in the PA.
No important change has taken place in the domestic balance of power compared to the situation last June. Fateh’s popularity increased slightly from 26% to 28% and the total for the Islamists decreased from 31% to 29% during the same period. Marwan Barghouti, at 17%, remains the most popular candidate for the office of the prime minister despite the drop from his June’s 21%. But the most dramatic development has been the increase in the popularity of Abdul Aziz Rantisi, one of the main Hamas leaders, rising to 14% compared to 3% in an open-ended question last June. The increase in the popularity of Rantisi may reflect the public response to repeated Israeli attempt to assassinate him.
Arafat’s popularity increases in the Gaza Strip (54%) compared to the West Bank (47%), in refugee camps (54%) compared to villages and towns (48%), among the illiterates and those with elementary education (66% and 56% respectively) compared to holders of BA degree (44%), among housewives (54%) compared to students (43%), among those employed in the public sector (59%) compared to those in the private sector (42%), among the most religious men (55%), (with religiosity measured by the number of praying time in mosques) compared to the least religious men (37%), among those with the lowest income (51%) compared to those with the highest income (33%), and among supporters of Fateh (81%) compared to supporters of Hamas (30%).
Support for Abu Ala’, as a prime minister, increases in villages and cities (64% and 63% respectively) compared to refugee camps (53%), among the old (68%) compared to the young (54%), among the illiterates (70%) compared to holders of BA degree (56%), among merchants and housewives (68% and 65% respectively) compared to students (50%), among the least religious men (63%) compared to most religious (56%), and among supporters of Fateh (72%) compared to supporters of Hamas (48%).
(2) Peace and Security:
- 75% support the suicide attack at Maxim Restaurant in Haifa leading to the death of 20 Israelis.
- 78% believe that current Israeli measures, including the building of the separation wall, reduce the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the future.
- But 64% still support a two-state solution (Israel and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), while only 12% support a one-state solution (for Palestinians and Israelis). 21% want all Palestine back to the Palestinians.
- Percentage of those believing that armed confrontations will not stop and negotiations will not resume soon increases from 24% last June to 39% in this poll. 46% (compared to 56% last June) believe that the two sides will return to negotiations while some violence will continue.
- 68% believe that the roadmap is dead, but 28% believe that it can still be implemented
- 64% want a return to the Hudna that prevailed few weeks ago while 34% oppose it; but 85% (compared to 80% last June) support a mutual cessation of violence while only 14% oppose it.
- If an agreement is reached on a mutual cessation of violence, 59% (compared to 50% last June) would support taking measures by the PA to prevent attacks on Israelis.
- Despite the widespread support for the Hudna and the mutual cessation of violence, 58% would still support Hamas’ decision to oppose the ceasefire.
- 59% believe that current armed confrontations have helped the Palestinians achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not. In June, 65% shared that belief.
The findings indicate a high degree of pessimism regarding the chances for peace, with two thirds believing that the Roadmap has collapsed while more than three quarters believing that the Israeli measures in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including the building of the separation wall, reduces the chance for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the future. Moreover, the percentage of those believing that armed confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations increases from 24% in June to 39% in this poll. The percentage of those believing that the two sides will return to negotiations and confrontations will stop decreased from 17% to 10% during the same period. This may explain why such a high percentage (75%) supports the suicide bombing attack at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa in which 20 Israelis were killed. It may also explain whey a majority of 58% would support Hamas’ opposition to a ceasefire.
Despite the pessimism and the high level of support for violence, the findings show an additional side to the Palestinian street, one that fully supports a mutual cessation of violence (85%) while a majority (64%) supports a return to the Hudna that prevailed few weeks ago. More importantly, an unprecedented majority of 59% now supports taking measures by the PA to prevent attacks on Israelis once the two sides reach an agreement on mutual cessation of violence. Despite the continued buildup of the separation wall, a majority of 64% still supports a solution based on a two-state solution, while only 12% support a one-state solution, and 21% support a solution that would restore all of historic Palestine to the Palestinians.
Support for the bombing attack at the Maxim restaurant increases in the Gaza Strip (82%) compared to the West Bank (70%), in refugee camps (84%) compared to towns and villages (69%), among women (79%) compared to men (71%), among the young (78%) compared to the old (66%), among students (81%) compared to professionals (33%), and among supporters of Hamas (92%) compared to supporters of Fateh (69%).
Support for the two-state (Palestine-Israel) solution increases in the Gaza Strip (69%) compared to the West Bank (61%), among the old (69%) compared to the young (52%), among the illiterates (70%) compared to holders of BA degree (59%), among the professionals (72%) compared to students (48%), among married persons (66%) compared to the unmarried (53%), and among supporters of Fateh (74%) compared to supporters of Hamas (56%).
(3) Perceptions of the US:
- 96% believe that the US is not sincere when it says it works toward the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
- 92% believe that the US is not sincere when it says it wants political reforms and clean government in the PA.
- 78% believe the US is not serious in its declared opposition to the Israeli decision to expel or assassinate President Yasir Arafat.
- 97% believe the current US policy toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is biased in favor of Israel.
- But Palestinian evaluation of the current US conditions and policies varies on case by case basis. For example, positive evaluation reaches 85% when evaluating American medicine, science, and technology, and reaches 74% when evaluating the status of gender equality, and 63% when evaluating the status of US economic conditions. Positive evaluation drops to 53% with regards to arts and entertainment, 53% with regard to freedom of press and expression, and 44% to democracy and respect for human rights. Positive evaluation drops further when it comes to treatment of minorities (17%), respect for religious freedom (27%), or foreign policy (23%).
The findings show a clear lack of trust in the US policy toward the Palestinian-Israeli issue. But Palestinians show a positive evaluation of American values and achievements. For example, almost all Palestinians (97%) believe the US policy is biased in favor of Israel, while 96% believe the US is not sincere when it says it is working toward the establishment of a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of the Palestinians believes the US is not sincere in its position toward Palestinian political reform and that it is not serious about its opposition to the Israeli decision to expel or assassinate Yasir Arafat.
On the other hand, the Palestinians tend to give a positive evaluation to US achievements in medicine, science, and technology (85%), US gender equality (74%), arts and entertainment (53%), and freedom of the press (53%). Positive evaluation drops when it comes to democracy and human rights (44%), religious freedom (27%), foreign policy (23%), and treatment of minorities (17%).
It is clear that the US response to 11 September has affected Palestinian evaluation of internal American conditions regarding human rights, religious freedom and treatment of minorities especially Arabs and Muslims. The Bush Administration’s support for Israeli assassination and incursion policy may have contributed to the clear distrust in the USintentions in the peace process. While half of the Palestinians were convinced last June the belief that President Bush was determined to implement the Roadmap and move the peace process forward, this conviction has completely disappeared in this poll.
(4) Municipal Elections:
- 60% support holding local elections today, but 32% support the continued functioning of the appointed local councils due to existing conditions
- If elections are held today, 61% oppose holding them piecemeal, wherever possible, and demand holding them in all areas at once
- 80% support the direct election of the head of the local council by the voters while 18% support the election of the council head by the elected members of the council
- 67% support the participation of refugee camps located inside cities in the local elections while 25% support independent elections of local camp committees
- 42% give a positive evaluation for the work of the local councils in their areas; 46% believe these councils does represent the majority of the residents while 47% believes that they do not.
- If elections take place today, 33% would vote for the current local council in their area
- If elections take place today, 70% would participate
- Despite the support for local elections and despite the high level of readiness to participate, 51% believe that if local elections are held today, they would not be honest while only 38% believe they would be.
- 80% say they would vote for the candidate in accordance with their knowledge of the candidate’s positions, ethics, and qualifications, while 11% say they would vote for the candidate chosen by the family or tribe. In all cases, 81% say they would vote that candidate even if it turns out to be a woman. 16% say they would not vote for a woman candidate.
The findings show a majority of 60% in support of holding local elections today, while a third of the public supports, due to current conditions, the continued functioning of the existing PA-appointed councils. If a decision is made to hold elections now, a majority of 61% would oppose holding them piecemeal, wherever possible, and would insist on holding them simultaneously in all Palestinian areas. Two thirds of the public support the participation of the residents of refugee camps that are located within the municipal boundaries of existing cities, while 25% support holding separate elections for independent camp committees. There are no differences between refugees and non-refugees regarding the inclusion of the refugee camps in the municipal elections. But in refugee camps, support for the participation of refugee camp residents in the local elections decreases to 58% while support for separate elections for camp committees increases to 36%. The opposition to refugee camp participation in local elections does not exceed 5% among the public at large and among the residents of the camps. The findings also show that the overwhelming majority (80%) supports the direct elections of council heads, while only 18% support the election of the council heads by elected council members.
If local elections are held today, 70% say they would participate in them. When participating, 80% say they would vote for based on their knowledge of the candidate’s positions, ethics, and qualifications. 11% say they would vote for the candidate chosen by their family while only 6% say they would for the candidate chosen by their political party or faction. In all cases, an overwhelming majority (81%) says that it would vote for its preferred candidate even if it was a woman.
Despite the fact that a majority supports holding local elections today, and despite the fact that a large percentage is ready to participate in them if held today, confidence in the honesty of such elections is not high, not exceeding 38% while 51% say they would not be honest. Perhaps the reason for demanding elections now despite the lack of confidence in their honesty is the belief of almost half of the public (47%) that the current appointed councils do not represent the majority of the residents in their areas while only 46% believe that they do indeed represent the majority of the residents. Moreover, the percentage of the positive evaluation of the performance of the appointed local councils does not exceed 42%. In case local elections are held today, only 33% would vote the current heads of their local councils....Full Report