PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 11

Poll 4 English

 

Survey Research Unit

 

Results of Poll # 11

 

WHILE THREE QUARTERS OF THE PALESTINIANS WELCOME SHARON'S PLAN OF WITHDRAWAL FROM GAZA AND WHILE TWO THIRDS SEE IT AS VICTORY FOR ARMED STRUGGLE AGAINST OCCUPATION, 58% OF THE PALESTINIANS PREFER TO SEE THE PALESTINIAN ATUHORITY AND ISRAEL NEGOTIATE THE WITHDRAWAL PLAN AND 61% BELIEVE SHARON IS NOT SERIOUS AND WILL NOT WITHDRAW

 

14-17 March 2004

 

These are the results of poll # 11 conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between March 14 and 17, 2004 (before the Israeli assassination of Ahmad Yasin). The poll deals with the Sharon plan for a unilateral evacuation of settlements, the separation wall and military checkpoints, the peace process and armed attacks, and internal Palestinian matters. Total size of the sample is 1320 adults (825 in the West Bank and 495 in the Gaza Strip) interviewed face to face in 120 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%.

 

For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki or Ayoub Mustafa, at Tel 02-2964933 or email pcpsr@pcpsr.org

 

 

Table of Contents:

1.      Gaza Withdrawal Plan.

2.      Separation Wall and Checkpoints.

3.      Peace Process, Reconciliation, Armed Attacks, Hizballah Prisoners' Deal, and the Arab Summit.

4.      Domestic Issues.

5.      Results in numbers.

 

Main Findings

 

(1) Gaza Withdrawal Plan

  • About three quarters of the Palestinians welcome Sharon's plan to evacuate 17 settlements in the Gaza Strip and few more in the West Bank and two thirds believe it represents a victory for the armed struggle against occupation, but only one third believes Sharon is serious and will indeed withdraw and 61% believe he is not serious and will not withdraw.
  • A majority of 58% prefers to see the PA negotiate with Israel Sharon's withdrawal plan, and 38% prefer to see the withdrawal being carried out unilaterally.
  • 41% support and 54% oppose Israeli-Hamas negotiation of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
  • Withdrawal from Gaza will increase the chances for a peace settlement in the view of 32% and will decrease the chances for peace in the view of 24%.
  • In the view of the Palestinians, Sharon's intentions are: first, to push the Palestinians toward internal infighting; second, to consolidate control over the West Bank; third, to frighten the Palestinian leadership of its opposition; and fourth, to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel.
  • Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip will lead to a decrease in armed attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip in the view of 41% and will lead to an increase in such attacks in the view of 30%. In the Gaza Strip, 49% believe it will lead to a decrease in the attacks.
  • After the withdrawal and the evacuation of settlements, 54% propose to give homes in settlements to those whose homes have been demolished by Israel, 22% want to give them to refugees, and 13% would like to demolish them.

 

The polls shows that 73% of the Palestinians welcome Sharon's plan to evacuate 17 settlements in the Gaza Strip and few more in the West Bank. Gazans are more welcoming of the plan (82%) than West Bankers (68%). Yet, the percentage of those who believe that the plan will increase the chances for a political settlement with Israel does not exceed 32%, with 24% believing that it will decease such chances and 39% believing that it will have no effect on the peace process. The reason for the pessimistic assessment of the potential effect of the Sharon plan is derived from the publics negative estimate of Sharon's intentions. In the view of 37%, Sharon's first goal is to push the Palestinians toward internal infighting; 33% believe his second goal is to consolidate Israeli control over the West Bank, and 28% believe his third goal is to intimidate the Palestinian leadership with loss of power to opposition parties. The percentage of those believing that his first goal is to maintain Israel's Jewish majority does not exceed 22%.

 

Despite belief in Sharon's malicious intent, two thirds of the Palestinian public see in his plan a victory for Palestinian armed struggle while only one third believes it is not a victory. Moreover, 68% believe that a majority of Palestinians sees the plan as a victory for armed struggle. Given the actual results, the assessment of the respondents is highly accurate which indicates that this is indeed the normative attitude prevailing among Palestinians. But the percentage of those believing that a majority of Israelis sees the plan as a victory for the Palestinians is 44%, with 48% believing that most Israelis do not see it as a victory for Palestinians. The belief that the plan is a victory for Palestinian armed struggle increases in the Gaza Strip (72%) compared to the West Bank (62%), in refugee camps (72%) compared to cities (61%), among men (70%) compared to women (62%), and among supporters of Hamas and Fateh (70% and 69% respectively) compared to the unaffiliated (59%).

 

Despite the welcome of the Sharon plan and the belief that it represents a victory for Palestinian armed struggle, only one third believes that Sharon is serious and will indeed withdraw from the Gaza Strip, while 61% believe he will not. This could be the reason why a majority of 58% prefers to see the PA negotiate the Gaza withdrawal with Israel and only 38% prefer to see Israel withdrawing unilaterally. In other words, what the majority of the Palestinians sees as victory is not the unilateral aspect of the Sharon plan but the evacuation of settlements. In this regard, the public prefers the evacuation and withdrawal to be the result of negotiations, but it still sees victory in both cases.

 

The survey sought to examine public perception of the legitimacy of a Hamas-Israel negotiation. When asked if they think Israel should negotiate its withdrawal from Gaza also with Hamas, 41% responded positively while 54% said it should not. Similarly, when asked if Hamas should accept to negotiate with Israel, 43% said it should and 50% said it should not. Yet only 36% of the respondents believe a majority of the Palestinians approves Hamas-Israel negotiations and 53% believe that most Palestinians do not approve such negotiations on the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. If Hamas accepts to negotiate with Israel, this would mean a change in the principled positions of the movement toward Israel and the recognition of Israel in the view of 55% of the respondents. The finding showing such support for Hamas-Israel negotiations indicates that a large section of the Palestinian public is dissatisfied with PA performance and wishes to introduce another Palestinian actor into the negotiations process.

 

If Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip, the level of armed attacks against Israelis from the Strip would decline according to 41% of the public, while 30% of the public believe it would increase the number of such attacks, and 24% believe it will have no impact. The percentage of those believing that withdrawal will lead to a decrease in attacks from Gaza increases in the Gaza Strip (49%) compared to the West Bank (36%). It also increases among men (44%) compared to women (38%), among the oldest (45%) compared to the youngest (36%), among professionals, the retired, and farmers (60%, 56%, and 48% respectively) compared to students (33%), among those working in the public sector (51%) compared to those working in the private sector (44%), among the married (43%) compared to the unmarried (36%), and among Fateh supporters (45%) compared to supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad (40% and 38% respectively).

 

After the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, a majority of 54% thinks that homes in the evacuated settlements should be given to those Palestinians whose homes have been demolished by Israel. But 22% think they should go to refugees and 13% think they should be demolished.

 

(2) Separation Wall and Checkpoints

  • 55% believe the building of the separation wall will lead to an increase in armed attacks against Israel. 40% believe the best means for the Palestinians to fight it is by armed confrontations and bombing attacks inside Israel; 27% believe in a ceasefire agreement and return to the peace process; 10% prefer popular non violent demonstrations; and 11% believe going to the international court of Justice is the best means of fighting the wall.
  • A majority of 61% believes that the International Court of Justice will be biased in favor of Israel and only 26% believe it will be neutral.
  • 41% believe that the best means of fighting Israeli military checkpoints is through reaching a ceasefire and returning to the peace process and 28% believe armed confrontations and bombing attacks are the best means, while 9% have confidence in popular non-violent demonstration.

 

A majority of 55% believes that the separation wall will lead to more armed attacks against Israel, 18% believe it will lead to less attacks, and 25% believe it will have no impact on attacks. But more than two thirds (68%) believe that a majority of Israelis does believe that the wall will reduce armed attacks. The best way to fight the wall in the view of 40% of the public is by the continuation of armed confrontations and bombing attacks inside Israel while 27% believe the best way is to reach a ceasefire agreement and return to the peace process. The percentage of those who believe non-violent demonstrations are the best means to fight the wall does not exceed 10%, and a similar percentage (11%) believes in the effectiveness of complaining to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). One reason why the level of confidence in the ICJ is so low is the surprising finding that 61% of the public believe the Court will be biased in favor of Israel, with only 8% believing it will be biased in favor of the Palestinians and only 26% believing it would be neutral.

 

During the last three months, 48% of the Palestinians traveled through Israeli military checkpoints. The reasons for travel varied with 35% visiting family, 30% going to work, 23% seeking medical treatment, and 9% going to schools and universities. The frequency of travel varied too with 27% traveling once a month, 26% twice or three time monthly, 21% twice or three times weekly, and 17% daily. The extent of hardship encountered while crossing the checkpoints have been described as very large or large by 82% while 14% described it as medium and 3% as little. More than one third of the respondents said that family members had to locate to other areas because of the suffering at the checkpoints or because of their inability to cross them. The best way to fight the checkpoints according to 41% of the respondents is a ceasefire agreement and a return to the peace process, but 28% said it is the continuation of armed confrontations and bombings inside Israel. Only 9% said the best way to fight checkpoint is by non-violent demonstrations and 12% by complaining to international human rights organizations. Belief in the utility of armed confrontations and bombings inside Israel increases in the Gaza Strip (31%) compared to the West Bank (26%), among men (30%) compared to women (25%), among holders of BA degree (33%) compared to illiterates (26%), and among supporters of Hamas (38%) compared to supporters of Fateh (26%).

 

(3) Peace Process, Reconciliation, Armed Attacks, Hizballah Prisoners' Deal, and the Arab Summit

  • 66% believe the Roadmap has collapsed. Last December, 58% believed it had collapsed; and last October the percentage was 68%.
  • Wide support for armed attacks: 87% support attacks against Israeli soldiers, 86% support attacks against settlers, and 53% support attacks against Israeli civilians.
  • Despite that, 84% support mutual cessation of violence and 70% support a Hudna.
  • 67% believe that armed confrontations have helped the Palestinians achieve national rights in a way that negotiations could not.
  • After reaching a peace agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian state, 74% would support reconciliation between the two peoples, but 42% are convinced that such reconciliation is not possible ever.
  • 80% believe that Hizballah came out a winner from the prisoners' exchange with Israel.
  • In the occasion of the Arab Summit in Tunis, 86% of the Palestinians believe that they cannot count on Arab States to support them in regaining their rights.

 

The findings show little optimism about the prospect for a return to negotiations and cessation of violence. Only 15% believe that violence will stop soon and the two sides will return to negotiations and 45% believe some armed confrontations will continue but the parties will be able to return to negotiations. More than one third, compared to less than one quarter last December, believes that violence will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations. Two thirds, compared to 58% last December and 68% last October, believe that the Roadmap has collapsed.

 

Support for armed attacks against Israeli soldiers remains very high at 87% and against settlers at 86%, and against civilians at 53%. These figures are similar to those obtained during the last six months except for the support of violence against civilians which stood at 48% last December and 59% last October. Two thirds (67%) of the public believe that armed confrontations have helped achieve Palestinian national rights in ways that negotiations could not. Last December, this percentage stood at 64%.

 

Despite the wide support for armed attacks, a large majority of 84% support mutual cessation of violence and 70% support a hudna in which the Palestinians stop using arms against the Israelis and the Israelis stop using arms against the Palestinians. If such agreement if reached, 57% of the public would support the PA in taking measures to prevent armed attacks against Israeli targets.

 

The findings show that a majority of the public does not blame Palestinian opposition groups for the failure to reach a ceasefire agreement as only 11% do so, another 17% blame the PA for this failure, and 37% blame both sides. The rest of the public blames others, mostly Israel. The percentage of those blaming the opposition groups more than the PA increases among supporters of Fateh (9% blame the PA and 18% blame the opposition) compared to supporters of Hamas (26% blame the PA and 8% blame the opposition).

 

After reaching a peace agreement between the two sides and the establishment of a Palestinian state recognized by Israel, 74% would support reconciliation between the two peoples. Despite this finding, 42% believe reconciliation is not possible ever, while 18% believe it will be possible only after several generations, 8% believes it to be possible in the next generation, 7% during the next 10 years, and 16% during the next few years. Regarding the modalities of reconciliation after reaching a peace agreement, 86% would support open borders between the two states, 65% would support joint economic institutions and ventures, 29% would support the creation of joint political institutions toward a confederation, 39% would support the enacting of laws that prohibit incitement against Israel, and only 7% would support the adoption of a school curriculum in the Palestinian state that recognizes Israel and teaches school children not to demand return of all Palestine to the Palestinians.

 

An overwhelming majority of 80% views the Israel-Hezbollah prisoners exchange as a victory for Hezbollah, 9% view it as a victory for Israel, and 7% believe the two sides came out victorious.

 

On the occasion of the Arab summit, originally scheduled for the end of March in Tunisia, PSR asked respondents whether they can count on support from Arab states in regaining their rights. Only 14% responded in the affirmative and 86% said Palestinians can not count on support of Arab states.

 

(4) Domestic Issues

  • Only 20% to 25% believe that Prime Minister Abu Ala' has been able to achieve his four stated objectives of putting an end to internal anarchy, prepare for elections, carry out political reforms, and return to negotiations. Despite the low evaluation, only 39% believe that he should resign and 47% believe he should not.
  • 63% believe Israeli occupation is responsible for the chaos in the Palestinian areas and 25% put the blame on the Palestinian security services and the Palestinian leadership.
  • 70% want to have Palestinian legislative and presidential elections after Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian cities and towns, but 27% support holding them now.
  • 91% support internal and external calls for fundamental political reforms in the PA.
  • Positive evaluation of Palestinian democracy does not exceed 23%, with 84% believing that corruption exists in the PA, and 94% believing that one can not find a job without a wasta.
  • Arafat's popularity stands at 38% as the case was last December.
  • For the office of a vice president, Marwan Barghouti remains at the top with 16%, followed by Abdul Aziz Rantisi with 14%, and Saeb Erikat with 8%.
  • Fateh's popularity stands at 27% and Hamas at 20%. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas has the support of 27% compared to 23% for Fateh. The popularity of the Islamists combined (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and independent Islamists) stands at 29% and the percentage of the non-affiliated stands at 40%.

 

The findings show little positive evaluation of the performance of the Abu Ala's government. When asked whether the Prime Minister has been able to deliver on what he promised regarding the elimination of internal anarchy, preparation for elections, political reforms, and return to the peace process with Israel, only 20% to 25% said he was able to deliver for each item while 65% to 75% said he was not. Despite this grim assessment, only 39% said the Prime Minister and his government should resign and 47% said they should not. One reason for this could be the finding that 63% of the public blame the Israeli occupation for the anarchy and lack of security while only 25% blame it on the failure of the Palestinian security services and leadership.

 

Demand for Abu Ala's resignation increases in the Gaza Strip (43%) compared to the West Bank (37%), in refugee camps (44%) compared to towns and villages (35%), among men (45%) compared to women (33%), among the youngest, between the ages of 18-22 years (45%) compared to the oldest, over 52 years old (33%), among holders of BA degree (41%) compared to illiterates (29%), among professionals, laborers, employees, and students (60%, 51%, 48%, and 46% respectively) compared to housewives and the retired (32% and 22% respectively), and among supporters of Hamas (49%) compared to supporters of Fateh (34%).

 

Less than one quarter (23%) gives Palestinian democracy a positive evaluation. But 50% believe people can criticize the PA without fear, and 49% believe that there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the Palestinian territories. Belief in the existence of corruption in PA institutions reaches 84%, and from among those 70% believe that this corruption will increase or remain the same in the future. More than three quarters (77%) believe that to a large extent jobs in the PA are obtainable through wasta, with an additional 17% believing that wasta is used sometimes. Only 2% believe employment is done without wasta. The percentage of those who say that conditions in the Palestinians areas forces them to seek permanent emigration reaches 15%.

 

Support for internal and external calls for fundamental political reforms reaches 91% in this poll. Support for holding general political elections after an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities reaches 70% with an additional 27% supporting the holding of elections today, under the current conditions of occupation.

 

Arafat's popularity remains unchanged as it was last December (38%). Regarding support for a vice president, Marwan Barghouti's popularity remains highest (16%) followed by that of Abdulaziz al Ranatisi (14%), Sa'eb Erikat (8%), Haidar Abdul Shafi (6%), Ahmad Yasin and Hanan Ashrawi (5% each), Farouq Qaddoumi (4%), Ahamd Quari'-Abu Ala' (3%), Mohammad Dahlan (2%), and Mahmoud Abbas-Abu Mazin (1%). In the Gaza Strip, Rantisi's popularity inceases to 17% compared to 12% in the West Bank. Similarly, Dahlan's popularity increases in the Gaza Strip to 5% compared to less than 1% in the West Bank. Fateh is the most popular faction with 27% followed by Hamas with 20%. Hamas' popularity is the largest in the Gaza Strip (27%) followed by Fateh (23%). The combined Islamists popularity (Hamas, Islamic Jihad and independent Islamists) reaches 29% and the percentage of the non-affiliated stands at 40%.

 

 

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