Taba Agreement, Elections, Jordanian-Palestinian Relations, Evaluation of PNA
This is the Survey Research Unit's (SRU) twentieth public opinion poll, and covers the following topics: the Taba Agreement, elections, evaluation of the Palestinian Authority, and Jordanian- Palestinian relations. The part of this survey dealing with Palestinian- Jordanian relations has been conducted in cooperation with the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) at Jordan University. Residents of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jordan were asked the same questions at the same time. Results from the Jordanian sample are reproduced in the text of the analysis. The SRU has been conducting regular public opinion polls to document an important phase in the history of the Palestinian people and to record the reactions of the Palestinian community with regard to current political events. CPRS does not adopt political positions and does not tolerate attempts to influence the conclusions reached or published for political motives. CPRS is committed to providing a scholarly contribution to analysis and objective study and to publishing the results of all our studies and research. Poll results provide a vital resource for the community and for researchers needing statistical information and analysis. The polls give members of the community the opportunity to voice their opinion and to seek to influence decision makers on issues of concern to them.
The main findings of this poll are:
- A total of 72.1% of Palestinians support the Taba or Oslo B Agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
- Over 509 support the amendment of the charter; 39% oppose it.
- Around 46% believe the Taba Agreement and the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
- Some 43% evaluate the Palestinian negotiating performance regarding the release of prisoners as good, but less than 20% consider the performance regarding Hebron as good.
- About 91% consider participation in the upcoming election for the Palestinian Council as a national duty. But 40% believe the elections will provide the Palestinian Authority with justification to oppress the Palestinian opposition.
- Some 68% intend to participate in the elections for the Palestinian Council even if the opposition calls for a boycott. Some 81% intend to register for the elections.
- About 51% support a proportional representation system; 40% support a simple majority system.
- A total of 54% believe the elections will be fair, and 22% think they will not be fair.
- A majority of 70% show willingness to elect a woman candidate, but 25% will not do so
- Popularity of Fateh and Arafat is increasing: over 58% of those polled said that they will elect Arafat and over 52% will elect Fateh candidates.
- More Jordanians agree that the Palestinians and Jordanians have a special relationship not found between the Palestinians and any other Arabs (79%) agree in Palestine and 91% in Jordan).
- More Jordanians support the establishment of a form of unity between Jordan and Palestine in the future (there is 74% support among respondents in Palestine and 86% support among those interviewed in Jordan).
- A majority of Palestinians (61%) support a confederation between Palestine and Jordan, while significantly fewer Jordanians (17%) favor such an arrangement.
- On the other hand, more Jordanians (53%) support complete unity than do Palestinians (25%).
Following is an analysis of the results of the twentieth public opinion poll (see Appendix) conducted by the SRU .
One of the most important events that took place prior to this poll was the reaching of an interim agreement in Taba between the Israeli government and the PLO to expand Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank. The Taba, or Oslo B, agreement was signed amidst much celebration at the White House on September 28, 1995. Before the agreement was secured, many demonstrations were held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners still held in Israeli prisons. As a result, dozens of prisoners were released, most of whom had light sentences. However, in an act that breached the agreement, the Israeli president refused to release four female prisoners. The agreement also stipulated that redeployment from the populated areas of the West Bank, except Hebron, would be concluded before the end of the current year and that elections for a Palestinian legislative council would be conducted on the 20th of January 1996.
A security closure was imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Jewish holidays causing a general feeling of frustration and anger among Palestinians. Four young men died in Nablus during confrontations with the Israeli army. Settler harassment and provocation of the Arab inhabitants of Hebron continued.
A reconciliation committee was created in an attempt to renew internal Palestinian dialogue and rebuild an atmosphere of mutual trust between the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas. The National Authority released Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar and other Hamas leaders as a gesture of goodwill. After the redeployment of the Israeli army from Jenin, the town was handed over to the PNA. Preparations for the elections continued, along with the publication of the proposed election law and other draft laws.
The questionnaire was designed through consultations with experts. A pre-test involving fifty questionnaires was conducted in the Nablus area prior to the poll. The questionnaire instrument includes a large number of demographic variables as indicated in the section on sample distribution.
Household Sample Selection
SRU researchers adopted a multi-stage sample selection process. The process of sample selection began with the creation of lists of all locations in the West Bank and Gaza according to district, population size and distribution, and type of locality (city, town, village, and refugee camp). A proportional random sample of locations to be surveyed was selected from these lists, and fieldworkers and researchers created maps of these localities. These maps indicate the boundaries, main streets, and clusters of residential neighborhoods in these areas which were further divided into a number of sampling units (blocks) with each unit comprising an average of one hundred housing units. The sample units (blocks) to be surveyed were selected randomly.
Households were selected based on a systematic sampling framework. For example, if the fieldworker estimated the number of houses in the sampling unit to be one hundred and is assigned ten interviews, the fieldworker divided the 100 by 10, obtaining 10. Therefore, the fieldworker would conduct the first interview in the 10th house, and the second in the 20th, and so on. Fieldworkers started their sample selection of housing units from a well-defined point in the area such as a post office, mosque, business, etc. They reported on the direction of their sampling walks, and played an active role in drawing the maps for the localities in the sample and estimating the number of houses in each block. Interviews for the poll were conducted simultaneously in Palestine and Jordan between the 13th and 15th of October, 1995. The sample distribution included 1144 persons in Palestine (729 in the West Bank and 415 in the Gaza Strip) and 1600 in Jordan (including 400 refugee camp residents).
(Expressed as a % of the total sample)
*Specialists (University teacher, engineer, doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, executive)
**Employees (school teacher, government employee, nurse, lower-level company employee)
--Population Estimates are based on the "Statistical Abstract of Israel" (1993) and FAFO (1993), and Palestinian Statistical Bureau (1994)
Our data collectors have participated in a number of workshops where the goals of the poll were discussed. They were also lectured on household interviewing, confidence building, mapping, sampling techniques, survey methods, and scientific research. Four special training seminars for data collectors were conducted during this month, attended by a total of seventy fieldworkers. Training for data collection was conducted in the field where actual illustrations of the sample selection and interviewing techniques were demonstrated.
Data collectors worked in teams of two supervised by qualified researchers. CPRS researchers made random visits to interview stations and discussed the research process with data collectors. More than fifty percent of our data collectors are female so as to ensure the representation of women in the sample. Data collectors were assigned a limited number of interviews (an average of 15 per team) to allow for careful interviewing.
Household interviews resulted in a non-response rate estimated at 2%. Some respondents, we believe, were reluctant to state their political views out of fear or disinterest in the present political factions.
Data were processed through the use of SPSS, a computer package that is able to detect illogical answers and other inconsistencies. The margin of error for this poll is 3%.
1. The Taba "Oslo B" Agreement
A majority of 72% Palestinians support the Taba Agreement. This percentage can be compared with 65% support for the Oslo Agreement signed in September 1993 (Table 2).
Support for Agreements
Oslo Agr. (Sept. 1993)
Taba Agr. (Sept. 1995)
The results show that opposition to the new agreement tends to increase with more education (Table 3).
Support for Agreement by Education
Table 4 below indicates how opposition decreases with age.
Support for Agreement by Age
Although over 70% of respondents support the Taba Agreement, fewer Palestinians (50%) support the amendment of the Palestinian National Charter as stipulated in the Taba Agreement. The greatest opposition to the amendment is found among the most educated and residents of refugee camps (Tables 5 and 6).
Amendment of Charter by Education
Amendment of Charter by Place of Residence
As is the case in support for the Taba Agreement, older respondents were more supportive of amending the Charter than were younger persons (Table 7).
Amendment of Charter by Age
I. Views of the Elections
Palestinians were questioned about the factors that might influence their decision concerning participation or boycott of elections. The results can be summarized as follows:
- Participation: Palestinians generally have a positive view of participation in elections. A total of 90% of those polled said that participation is a "national duty". More than 70% believe that elections will bring about change for the better, will enhance personal security, will be an implementation of the right to self-determination, and will lead to the establishment of a legislative council.
About 67% think that elections will promote democracy and will guarantee that the "best" wins. Expectations that an improvement in economic conditions would be a result of elections were expressed by 61%. A majority of the supporters of Hamas, PFLP, and Islamic Jihad believe that elections will promote democracy, will bring about change for the better, will improve economic conditions, and will lead to a legislative council. An even higher percentage of the supporters of Fateh and National Independents expressed these views. Incentive to participate in elections is lowest among respondents in refugee camps since, compared with non-refugees, refugees are more skeptical about what will emerge from the elections (Table 8).
Views of elections by Place of Residence
(% of those who answered "yes")
Will Promote Democracy
Will Implement Self-Determination
Will Lead to Personal Security
Executive (Admin) Council
The least favorable evaluation of elections may be found in the middle and south of the Gaza Strip, areas under the authority of Palestinians and predominantly populated by Palestinian refugees. Palestinians between the ages of 23 and 35, compared with other age groups, are less enthusiastic about participating in the elections. Education also plays a role in shaping peoples' views of what influence elections will have on their economic conditions, personal security, and other issues as skepticism increases with more education (Table 9).
Views of Elections by Education
(% of those who answered "yes")
Will Improve Economic Conditions
Will Lead to Personal Security
Best Person Will Win
- Boycott: It would seem the most important factor that could lead to a boycott of elections is the belief on the part of 41% of respondents that elections will result in the establishment of a limited executive council. Palestinians are also anxious that elections might lead to the legitimizing of oppressive measures against the Palestinian opposition. Less than one-third of the Palestinians feel that elections will give legitimacy to an unsatisfactory agreement and that the results of these elections are predetermine. A quarter of the respondents believe elections will consolidate Israeli control. The percentage of those who think that elections violate religious instructions does not exceed 17%. Doubts about elections are higher in the West Bank than in the Gaza Strip owing to the fact that many West Bank residents feel that elections will consolidate Israel's control, provide legitimacy to an unsatisfactory agreement, and will lead to the formation of an executive (admin.) council only. Palestinians in Jerusalem are also skeptical about elections, as they, more than any other group, feel that election results are pre-determined, and that elections will reinforce Israel's control and give legitimacy to a bad agreement. Refugees and camp residents are more critical than non-refugees, and educated Palestinians are more critical than those with less education (Table 10).
Views of Elections by Education
(% of those who answered "yes")
Will Reinforce Israeli Control
Will Oppress Opposition
Executive (Ad) Council