Joint Israeli-Palestinian Public Opinion Poll
ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS SUPPORT THE EGYPTIAN INITIATIVE AND THE DEPLOYMENT OF INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE IN THE GAZA STRIP AFTER ISRAEL'SWITHDRAWAL AS PART OF SHARON'S DISENGAGEMENT PLAN.
23-27 June 2004
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, conducted a joint survey of Palestinian and Israeli public opinion between June 23 and 27, 2004.
The poll was designed to examine Palestinian and Israeli attitudes toward Prime Minister Sharon's modified disengagement plan and the Egyptian proposal to assume some responsibilities in the Gaza strip. In addition the Palestinian public was asked about the coming local elections in the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli public was asked about the Attorney General decision on the Greek Island affair. This is the ninth joint poll in an ongoing research project on the opinions of the two publics. The first poll was conducted in July 2000 in the wake of the Camp David summit.
The poll was planned and supervised by Dr. Yaacov Shamir, professor of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University, and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, professor of Political Science and director of PSR. The two surveys included both identical questions as well as specific questions for each public. A representative sample of 1320 Palestinians in 120 locations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem was interviewed face-to-face with a sampling error of 3%. The interviews were conducted between June 24-27. The Israeli data are based on telephone interviews with a representative sample of the general Israeli public with 502 Israelis (sampling error of 4.5%). The interviews were conducted in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian between June 23-27.
The following summary highlights the findings of the joint poll. For further details on the Palestinian survey, contact Dr. Khalil Shikaki at tel. 02-2964933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. On the Israeli survey, contact Dr.Yaacov Shamir at tel. 03-6419429 or email email@example.com.
Summary of Results
(1) The Modified Disengagement Plan
- Little less than two-thirds of the Palestinians (64%) and 54% of the Israelis pledge general support for the Egyptian initiative proposed in the context of Sharon's disengagement plan. 39% of the Israelis and 32% of the Palestinians oppose it. The initiative calls for the unification of the Palestinian security services under the control of the cabinet, the appointment of an effective interior minister, and the deployment of Egyptian military advisers and security officials in the Gaza Strip to assist in the implementation of a mutual ceasefire plan. Palestinians were also asked about the individual components of the initiative. Here their level of support varies. 81% support the unification of the security services under the control of the cabinet, 87% support the appointment of a strong minister of interior, but only 53% support the deployment of Egyptian military advisers and security officials in the Gaza Strip.
- Israelis and Palestinians also support the deployment of an armed international force in the Gaza Strip that would be responsible for security in the Rafah international border crossing and the Egyptian-Palestinian border. 53% of the Israelis and 60% of the Palestinians support such a step, while 43% of the Israelis and 39% of the Palestinians oppose it. In addition 70% of the Palestinians and 52% of the Israelis support international presence aimed at rebuilding PA civil institutions. 64% of the Palestinians and 43% of the Israelis support international presence aimed at rebuilding PA security services; 78% of the Palestinians support international presence aimed at rebuilding the Palestinian economy and infrastructure and 61% of the Palestinians support the deployment of international forces in the settlements in order to take custody of them and maintain control until an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on their future is reached.
- Two thirds of the Israeli public (66%) support and 31% oppose Sharon's modified disengagement plan. Moreover, 68% of the Israeli public support and 31% oppose dismantling most of the settlements in the occupied territories as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Among Palestinians, support for Sharon's disengagement plan does not exceed 34% while 65%% oppose it. In March 2004, 73% of the Palestinians and 64% of the Israelis welcomed the original plan when it was first announced. This marks a meaningful drop in Palestinians' support for the plan and a small increase in Israelis' support since its announcement. On the other hand both publics' expectations as to the chances for the plan to be implemented have barely changed since March 2004 despite the changes in the initial plan, which now require subsequent government decisions before the actual evacuation begins. 49% of the Israelis and 24% of the Palestinians believe now that the plan will eventually be implemented compared to 54% of the Israelis and 24% of the Palestinians who believed in March 2004 that Sharon was serious about implementing it.
- After the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, 59% of the Palestinians are worried about possible Palestinian infighting. Only 30% of the Palestinians and 10% of the Israelis believe the PA has high capacity to control the situation after the withdrawal, and only 31% of the Palestinians and 8% of the Israelis believe life in Gaza will fully resume in an orderly manner. However while 59% of the Palestinians believe the PA will be the body that will assume control over the Gaza Strip after the withdrawal only 27% of Israelis see this happen. 45% of the Israelis believe that the Gaza Strip will fall into the hands of factions and armed groups but only 26% of the Palestinians think so.
- An overwhelming majority of the Palestinians (90%) supports Hamas’ participation in the administration of the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal and the most preferred percentage of control over decision making to be given to Hamas is 50%. Israelis are much more reserved with respect to the Hamas. Only 35% of the Israelis accept the possibility of the Hamas taking part in the administration of the Gaza strip, while 60% deem it unacceptable.
(2) State of the Armed Conflict, Peace Process and Reconciliation
- Despite the fact that 69% of the Palestinians believe that armed attacks have helped achieve national goals that negotiations could not achieve, only 40% believe they came out winners so far in the ongoing armed conflict that has started in September 2000. 37% believe no one won while 16% believe Israel is the winner. Israelis too don't see themselves as winners in the current conflict. Only 11% of the Israeli public thinkIsrael has won; 57% of the Israelis believe that neither side won, and 26% feel that Palestinians are the winners. Contrary to Palestinians however, most Israelis (57%) don't believe that the armed Intifada has paid Palestinians off in achieving for them political goals that negotiations could not achieve.
- A majority of the Palestinians (59%) supports continued suicide bombings inside Israel if an opportunity arises. Similarly, a great majority of the Israelis (67%) support pursuing the policy of focused assassinations if an opportunity arises despite the decrease in the level mutual of violence in the past few months. The level of perceived threat in both publics also remains high with 78% of the Israelis and 77% of the Palestinians feeling that their safety and that of their families are not assured these days. Thus support for mutual cessation of violence remains very high (90% among Israelis and 79% among Palestinians). If such cessation is obtained, a majority of 55% of the Palestinians would support taking measures by the PA to prevent further armed attacks on Israeli targets. Also support for long range reconciliation between the two peoples remains very high (72% among Palestinians and 80% among Israelis) even though 43% of the Palestinians and 28% of the Israelis believe such reconciliation is not possible ever.
(3) Domestic Israeli Issues: The Greek Island Affair
- Three quarters of the Israeli public (76%) believe that there exist today in Israel corrupt relationships between those in power and big money. 39% of the Israeli public believe that the Legal Counselor's decision in the Greek Island affair will contribute to rise in corruption. 47% think it will not make any difference and only 6% believe it will contribute to decline in corruption. 63% of the Israeli public think that if an ordinary citizen would have been suspected of similar illegal affairs attributed to Sharon, the chances that the Legal Counselor would have reached a similar decision in his case are low or very low.
- 35% of the Israelis trusted the Chief Prosecutor's (Arbel) decision, 33% trusted the Legal Counselor's decision (Mazuz), 12% did not trust either one, and 21% did not know or refused to answer.
(4) Domestic Palestinian Issues:
a: Local Elections
- If local elections were held soon and were fair, 34% of the respondents think Fateh candidates would win, 27% think Hamas candidates would win, 18% think independents would win, and only 9% think family candidates would win. As to how the respondents themselves would behave, 28% said they will vote for Hamas and Islamic Jihad candidates, 26% for Fateh’s, 17% for independents, and 9% for family candidates. In the Gaza Strip, 32% will vote for Hamas and Islamic Jihad candidates, 23% for Fateh’s, 18% for independents, and 7% for family candidates.
- A solid majority of 70% supports the participation of refugee camp residents in the municipal council elections within which these camps are located, 23% support holding separate elections for these camps to elect local committees for the camps, and only 5% oppose the participation of refugee camps in the local elections.
b: Reform and Corruption
- An overwhelming majority (92%) supports inside and outside calls for fundamental political reforms on the PA. But only 40% of the public believe the PA is actually carrying out such reform.
- 87% believe that corruption exists in the institutions of the PA, and among those more than two thirds believe that this corruption will remain the same or increase in the future. Moreover, two thirds believe that officials and others involved in or accused of corruption are often not charged or brought to account.
c: Popularity of Yasir Arafat, Marwan Barghouti, and Political Factions
- In an open question (without a list of names presented to respondents) regarding the election of the PA president, a majority of 54% votes for Yasir Arafat. No one else received 2% or more of the vote with the exception of Marwan Barghouti and Mahmud Zahhar (2% for each). But in a closed question (with a list of only two names presented to respondents) Arafat received 49% and Haidar Abdul Shafi 10%.
- In another open question, this time regarding the election of a vice president, Ahmad Qurai (Abu Ala’) received 9%, followed by Marwan Barghouti (8%). But in a closed question, Barghouti came first with 25%.
- The popularity of Fateh has remained unchanged from last March (28%) but that of Hamas increased from 20% to 24% during the same period. Combined Islamist strength (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and independent Islamists) increased from 29% last March to 35% in this poll.