PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 5

Public Opinion Poll # 5

WHILE SHARPLY DIVIDED OVER THE CEASEFIRE AND BOMBING ATTACKS AGAINST CIVILIANS, AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY SUPPORTS POLITICAL REFORM BUT HAVE DOUBTS ABOUT THE PA'S INTENTIONS TO IMPLEMENT IT

18-21 August 2002

These are the results of opinion poll # 5, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) between 18-21 August 2002. The poll deals with the public attitudes toward the peace process and reconciliation, armed confrontations, evaluation of the PA performance, political reform, and the popularity of Arafat, Fateh, and Islamist groups. The total sample size of this poll is 1320 from Palestinians 18 years and older, interviewed face-to-face, in 120 locations in the West Bank (814) and the Gaza Strip (506). The margin of error is 3%.

Table of Contents:

MAIN RESULTS:

I. Peace Process and Reconciliation

More than two thirds of the Palestinians (70%) continue to believe that armed confrontations have helped achieve Palestinian national rights in ways that negotiations could not. The impact of this belief is seen in the sharp division within the Palestinian society over the gradual implementation of a ceasefire and an Israel withdrawal from PA areas with 48% supporting and 50% opposing it. It can also be seen in the majority opposition to internal Palestinian efforts that seek to build a consensus around the need to put an end to bombing attacks against civilians inside Israel with 53% opposing and 43% supporting such efforts. The results show also that 52% still support bombing attack

against civilians inside Israel. This result is identical to that of our last poll in May 2002. Support for attacks against Israeli civilians reached 58% in December 2001. Support for attacks against soldiers and settlers remained unchanged at 92% and 91% respectively.

Support for the continuation of armed confrontations can also be seen in the opposition of almost two-thirds (65%) to the deployment of Jordanian and Egyptian security trainers in the Palestinian areas. This large opposition may be due to Palestinian belief that the purpose of the deployment of the trainers is to enforce a ceasefire if the need arise. However, despite the efforts to arrange a ceasefire and to deploy Egyptian and Jordanian trainers, only a small minority of 16% expects to see an end to violence and a return to negotiations soon.

Despite the hard-line attitude regarding the ceasefire and the targeting of civilians and despite the low expectations regarding return to negotiations and cessation of violence, almost three-quarters of the Palestinians are still supportive of reconciliation between the two peoples after a peace agreement is reached and a Palestinian state is established and recognized by the state of Israel. However, this commitment to reconciliation, based on a two-state solution, does not mean that all three quarters believe it will actually happen. Indeed, 43% of all Palestinians believe that reconciliation will never happen. Moreover, while support, as in all previous polls, is very high for open borders between the two states (84%) and for joint economic institutions and ventures (68%), only one-third supports taking legal steps to prohibit incitement against Israel (33%). Moreover, only a minority of 22% supports the formation of joint political institutions (aiming at the establishment of a confederation between the two states), and even a smaller minority (8%) supports the adoption of school curriculum that recognizes the state of Israel and does not demand the return of all Palestine to the Palestinians. It is clear that support for reconciliation is motivated by purely cost-benefit calculations.

Support for the gradual ceasefire and Israeli army withdrawal increases in the areas of Jerusalem (60%), Tulkarm (57%), Jenin (56%) and Ramallah (54%) and decreases in Deir al Balah (34%), Bethlehem (41%), Hebron (45%) and Rafah (44%). It also increases in towns and villages (51%) compared to refugee camps (42%); among non-refugees (50%) compared to refugees (45%); among women (53%) compared to men (43%); among illiterates (56%) compared to holders of BA degree (46%); among housewives (54%) compared to professionals (25%); and among supporters of Fateh (57%) and nonaffiliated (52%) compared to supporters of Hamas (40%) and PFLP (30%).

Support for the efforts to create a consensus prohibiting the targeting of Israeli civilians is strongest in the West Bank (48%) compared to the Gaza Strip (37%); in the areas of Jenin (55%), Hebron (54%), Ramallah (53%) and Gaza City (53%) compared to areas of Rafah (24%), Deir al Balah (25%), Khan Younis (29%), Jabalia (35%) and Bethlehem (36%). Support also increases in cities (47%) compared to refugee camps (32%); and among supporters of Fateh (50%) compared to supporters of Hamas (31%).

II. Jordanian Obstacles to Travel and the Desire to Emigrate

  • 31% believe that Jordan is right, and 66% believe it is wrong, in putting obstacles making it difficult to travel from the West Bank to Jordan

  • 19% say that current conditions forces them to seek permanent emigration from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

The results show a clear rejection of the Jordanian position regarding Palestinian travel across the Allenby bridge. Two-thirds believe that Jordan is wrong in putting obstacles making it difficult for Palestinians to travel to Jordan. The survey question pointed out that Jordan imposes such obstacles for fear of Palestinian mass emigration to Jordan. The opposition to the Jordanian policy may be due to the fact that only a minority of 19% thinks of permanently emigrating from the Palestinian areas. For this reason, the majority sees no justification for the Jordanian move. Previous polls conducted before the intifada, between 1998 and 2000, showed that a percentage between 21% and 26% thought of permanently emigrating from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The belief that Jordan is right in putting obstacles to Palestinian travel across the Allenby Bridge increases in the Gaza Strip (41%) compared to the West Bank (24%); among refugees (36%) compared to non-refugees (27%); among illiterates (37%) compared to holders of BA degree (23%), among retired persons (57%) compared to students (21%) and farmers (20%); and among supporters of Fateh (34%) compared to supporters of PFLP (23%) and Hamas (30%).

Desire to emigrate increases among the young (26%) compared to the old (4%); among residents of cities (22%) compared to residents of refugee camps (16%); among men (21%) compared to women (16%); among holders of BA degree (28%) compare to illiterates (5%); among professionals (38%) and craftsmen (30%) compared to farmers (3%); among those who work in the private sector (25%) compared to those working in the public sector (13%); among the unmarried (30%) compared to the married (16%); and among the least religious (38%) compared to the most religious (11%).

III. Palestinian Political Reform

  • 84% support, and 14% oppose, fundamental reforms in the PA

  • 69% support, and 22% oppose, the appointment or election of a PA prime mini

  • 44% support, and 48% oppose, changing the Palestinian political system so that power would reside into the hands of a prime minister making the office of the president ceremonial

  • Only 25% have confidence, and 62% have no confidence, in the ability of the new PA government to reform internal political conditions and deal with Israel

  • Only 34% believe that the new PA government intends to implement the One-Hundred Day Program of political and financial reform

Support for PA political reform is still very high reaching 84%, but less than it was last May when it stood at 91%. The small drop in support for reform may be due to the belief of some Palestinians that some demands of reform might be motivated by peace and security related factors rather than by the desire for democracy and good governance. It is possible that the speech by the US president in June, with its focus on Palestinian regime change, may have contributed to this drop. The continued US talk about the need to turn the PA presidency into a ceremonial office may have also led to the reduction in support to this particular item in the reform agenda from 48% last May to 44% in this survey. Opposition to this reform measure, making the residency ceremonial, has increased form 44% last May to 48% in this poll.

Despite the sharp division over the need to turn the Palestinian presidency into a ceremonial office, a large majority (69%) supports the appointment or election of a prime minister. Obviously, an overwhelming majority (92%) of those who support turning the presidency into a ceremonial office supports the appointment or election of a prime minister. However, a large part (41%) of those who support the appointment or election of a prime minister does not see in this office a substitute for the office of the Palestinian presidency.

Support for turning the Palestinian presidency into a ceremonial office increases in cities (50%) compared to refugee camps (38%); among men (53%) compared to women (35%); among holders of BA degree (53%) compared to illiterates (39%); among merchants (61%), craftsmen (57%) and professionals (56%) compared to housewives (34%); and among the least religious (57%) compared to the most religious (38%).

Despite the high demand for reform, only a quarter of the Palestinians have confidence in the ability of the new government to implement political reform and deal with Israel. Indeed, only 34% believe that the government has the intention of implementing its own One-Hundred Day Program for political and financial reform.

IV. Perceptions of Corruption and Democratization

  • 85% believe there is corruption in PA institutions

  • Only 30% are convinced that efforts of the PA finance minister to unify revenue and expenditure operations will lead to the elimination of financial corruption in the PA

  • Only 16% give positive evaluation to Palestinian democracy under the PA

The results indicate an increase in the percentage of those who believe there is corruption in the PA from 83% in the last poll, in May 2002, to 85% in this poll. Similarly, positive evaluation of Palestinian democracy dropped from 21% last May to 16% in this poll. This is the lowest level of positive evaluation registered since the establishment of the PA. Despite assurances from the PA minister of finance that progress has been made in unifying revenue and expenditure operations, only 30% are convinced that such progress would eliminate financial corruption. Moreover, a majority of 58% is convinced that corruption in the PA will increase or remain the same in the future.

The confidence in the ability of the finance minister to combat financial corruption increases in the Gaza Strip (34%) compared to the West Bank (27%); among illiterates (36%) compared to holders of BA degree (30%); among those who work in the public sector (37%) compared to those who work in the private sector (28%); among those with the lowest income (32%) compared to those with the highest income (12%) and among supporters of Fateh (36%) compared to supporters of Hamas (28%) and non-affiliated (27%).

V. Elections, Popularity of Arafat and Political Affiliation

  • 69% would participate in Palestinian elections when held in January 2003

  • For the presidency: 34% would elect Arafat (compared to 35% last May, 36% in July and 46% in July 2000), 15% would elect Ahmad Yasin and 13% Haidar Abdul Shafi

  • For the office of a vice president: support for Barghouti increases from 19% last May to 23% in this poll

  • Fateh has the support of 26% of the street compared to 32% last May, 28% in December 2001, and 37% in July 2000. Support for the Islamists increases from 25% last May to 27% in this poll

The poll shows that Arafat's popularity has remained almost unchanged since last May standing at 34%. Arafat's popularity stood at 35% last May, 36% in December 2001, 33% in July 2001, and 46% in July 2000. On the other hand, the popularity of Marwan Barghouti increased during the past three months from 19% to 23%. Barghouti's popularity stood at 11% in December 2001 while his name did not show up in PSR polls before the intifada. In a third place came Ahmad Yasin, with 15%, Haidar Abdul Shafi with 13%, Sa'eb Erikat with 8%, Farouq Qaddoumi with 6%, Hanan Ashrawi with 4%, and Mahmud Abbas with 3%.

The poll also shows that 69% would participate in the January 2003 general political elections. It also shows a slight increase in the support for the Islamists and a decrease in the support for Fateh. Support for the Islamists increased from 25% last May to 27% in this poll. Support for the Islamists stood at 25% in December 2001 and 17% in July 2000. Support for Fateh dropped to 26%, which is the lowest level ever registered for that faction. Fateh's popularity stood at 32% in May 2002, 28% in December 2001, and 37% in July 2000. In December 1995, support for Fateh peaked to 55%.

Support for Arafat increases in the Gaza Strip (37%) compared to West Bank (32%); in the areas of Ramallah (49%) Gaza City (43%), Khan Younis (41%), Rafah (38%), and Nablus (36%) compared to Jerusalem (18%), Tulkarm (26%), Jenin (29%), and Hebron (28%); among the illiterates (36%) compared to holders of BA degree (26%); among the farmers (45%) and housewives (36%) compared to professionals (25%), students (26%), merchants (28%), and craftsmen (29%); among those with the lowest income (37%) compared to those with the highest income (21%); and among supporters of Fateh (69%) compared to supporters of Hamas (17%) and the nonaffiliated (26%).

Support for Marwan Barghouti increases in Nablus (33%) compared to Jerusalem (13%); among the youngest (34%) compared to the oldest (14%); among the women (27%) compared to men (20%); among students (30%) compared to professionals (6%); and among supporters of Fateh (33%) compared to Hamas (22%).

[PSR Home] [This poll's next section] [Index of Polls] [ e-mail]