This is the twenty-fourth public opinion poll conducted by the Survey Research Unit (SRU), now part of the newly established Parliamentary Research Unit (PRU), at the Center for Palestine Research & Studies (CPRS). It covers the topics of the peace process, during and after the violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis, evaluation of the three branches of the Palestinian government and the police and security services, corruption in PA institutions and the economy.
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 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to current events. The CPRS does not adopt political positions and does not tolerate attempts to influence the conclusions it reaches. It is committed to providing a scholarly contribution to the study of Palestinian politics. Toward this end, poll results provide a vital resource for researchers needing statistical information and analysis. The polls also give members of the Palestinian community an opportunity to voice their opinions and to seek to influence decision-makers on issues of concern to them.
The following is an analysis of the results obtained in the twenty-fourth opinion poll conducted by the SRU.
- General Background
- Sample Distribution
- Sample Selection
- Data Collection
- Data Analysis
- Future of the Peace Process
- Performance of the Government and its Institutions
- The Executive Branch: The Presidency and the Cabinet
- The Palestinian Legislative Council
- Political Affiliation
This poll was preceded by major political events. Moreover, it was conducted during and in the aftermath of the violent clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and police forces on one hand and Israeli soldiers on the other. In 27,August,1996 Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of "al-Laqlaq tower" building inside Jerusalem's old city. This decision led to several nonviolent confrontations in the city between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli police. The Israeli government continued its policy of confiscating the Jerusalem ID's from the city's Arab residents. Ramallah was closed by the Israeli army for several days after Palestinian security personnel detained a Palestinian Jerusalemite for questioning. A general strike was declared to protest the continued Israeli settlement policy and land confiscation.
Inside the Palestinian areas, several incidents took place highlighting the continued deterioration in human rights conditions. Several confrontations between demonstrators and Palestinian police took place in Nablus and Tulkarem in which one Palestinian was killed by the police. The chief justice of the supreme court in the West Bank was forced into retirement after he issued an order demanding the release of Bir Zeit university students detained for several months without charges being made against them. Earlier, Dr. Iyad al-Sarraj, head of the Independent Palestinian Citizen Right Commission, was arrested after making severe criticism against the PNA. In Nablus, a prisoner, Mohammed al-Jumail, died under torture in a Palestinian jail. A book by Edward Sa'id was temporarily banned in some Palestinian cities. The relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government was showing signs of strain after the president's refusal to respond to the legislative council demand for signing the basic law which had passed the first reading in the council.
Meanwhile, Mr. Arafat met during this period with the Israeli prime minister, but the meeting failed to produce tangible results. The peace process was stalled as the new Israeli government demanded to re-negotiate some aspects of the Palestinian Israeli agreement on the Hebron Re-deployment.
On 25,September,1996, the Israeli government ordered the opening of a tunnel beneath the walls of al-Aqsa mosque. The wailing wall tunnel was perceived by Palestinians as a step toward the Judization of the city and as a threat to al-Aqsa mosque. This Israeli action led to the irruption of major violent confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza cities leading to death of over 70 Palestinians. Sixteen Israeli soldiers also died in the clashes. Israeli forces imposed extreme restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank. Tanks were deployed at the outskirts of major Palestinian cities.
The questionnaire used in this poll was designed by CPRS researchers. Prior to the polling dates, the questionnaire was pre-tested on 50 respondents in the Nablus area. As in all of our polls, it includes a large number of demographic and attitudinal variables. (See Table 1 for the demographic distribution of the sample and the attached list of questions.) Usually, interviews are conducted within a three-day period (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). For this poll, however, the survey was administered over a twenty-one day period, 26 September-17 October 1996, because clashes and closures prohibited fieldwork. SRU was able to conduct its fieldwork in the Gaza Strip within the scheduled three-day period (26-28 September); for the West Bank, however, the period was extended from 26 September-17 October. The total sample is 1,233 persons, with 777 from the West Bank and 465 from the Gaza Strip.
Demographic Distribution & Characteristics of Sample, percentages & counts
Characteristic % of Total Count Characteristic % of Total Count Region
Up to 9 years
2 years College
Area of Residence
Divorced or Widowed
* Includes all post-secondary degree holders.
** Specialists are defined as Professors/University Instructors, Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, Pharmacists or Executives.
*** Employees are defined as School Teachers, Government Employees, Nurses, Lower-Level Company Employees.
The sample in this poll was obtained using a multi-stage sampling technique. There are four stages in the process of randomly selecting units of the population into the sample. These are the following:
We used 120 population locations in this poll, from which 1,233 respondents were selected into the sample. At the first stage of sampling, CPRS fieldworkers and researchers create maps of the localities for the population centers randomly selected into the sample. These maps indicate the boundaries, main streets and clusters of residential neighborhoods in these areas. They are further divided into a number of sampling units (blocs), with each bloc comprising an average of 100 housing units.
- selecting population locations with probabilities proportional to size of sample (PPS);
- selecting one or two random blocs from each location;
- selecting a household using systematic random sampling; and
- selecting a person 18-years or older from the household.
Households are selected based on a systematic sampling procedure. For example, if the fieldworkers estimate the number of houses in the sampling unit to be 100 and were assigned 10 interviews, the fieldworkers divide 100 by 10, obtaining 10. The fieldworkers then conduct the first interview in the 1household, the second in the 20th and so forth. Fieldworkers start their sample selection of households from a well recognized landmark such as a post office, mosque or business. They are instructed to report the direction of their sampling routes, and play an active role in drawing maps of each locality as well as estimating the number of housing units in each bloc.
Prior to the survey, our fieldworkers participate in a number of workshops and training sessions where we discuss the aims and methods of the poll. The topics we cover are household interviewing techniques, confidence building, mapping and sampling procedures. Four special training seminars were held prior to the poll which were attended by a total of 75 fieldworkers.
Fieldworkers are grouped into teams of two who are supervised by senior CPRS researchers. Senior researchers make random visits to interview locations to discuss the research process with the teams. More than fifty percent of our fieldworkers are female, so as to ensure the representation of women in the sample. To allow for careful interviewing, fieldworkers are assigned a limited number of interviews (an average of 17 per team).
The non-response rate for this sample in approximately 8%. This is higher than the 3% usually obtained in past surveys. Some respondents, we believe, were reluctant to state their views out of fear or disinterest in the present political circumstances.
The data were processed through SPSS, a computer program that is able to detect illogical answers and other inconsistencies.
For this poll, we estimate the margin of error to be +3%.
The results of this poll show that the total unemployment rate for the West Bank and Gaza Strip is 38%, which indicates no change since June 1996 (Poll #23), but an 11-point decrease since March 1996 (Poll #22). As consistently found in previous polls, unemployment in the Gaza Strip (45%) is higher than in the West Bank (34%). The high rates can be mainly attributed to the continued closures of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the February and March 1996 bombings. Note, these figures are based on respondents 18-years or older and on a definition of unemployment used by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
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