PSR poll No. 41 - Press release
19 September 2011
Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (41)
Massive support for going to the UN, but a majority expects US and Israeli financial and political sanctions and three quarters want an actual exercise of sovereignty throughout the West Bank
15-17 September 2011
These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 15-17 September 2011. The poll was conducted after the PLO declaration of its intention to seek membership in the UN. President Abbas announced the intention to go to the UNSC during data collection. This press release covers Palestinian attitudes regarding the UN issue, the performance of the governments of Salam Fayyad and Ismail Haniyeh, the internal balance of power between Fateh and Hamas, and the views of the public on the most vital Palestinian goals and the most serious problems confronting Palestinians today. Total size of the sample is 1200 adults interviewed face to face in 120 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. While this press release covers domestic Palestinian issues and the decision to seek UN membership, other issues related to the peace process and Israeli-Palestinian relations will be covered in a separate joint Palestinian-Israeli press release and later in our more detailed report on the poll.
For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel 02-296 4933 or email email@example.com.
Findings of the third quarter of 2011 show that a semi consensus is evolving over the issue of seeking UN membership and recognition of Palestinian statehood despite the fact that a large majority believes that the step will lead to the suspension of American financial support and Israeli custom transfers and will lead to greater hardships on the ground with more Israeli checkpoints and settlement activities. Findings also show that the overwhelming majority of the public want the PA to exercise actual sovereignty throughout the entire West Bank and to insist on assuming control over the Allenby Crossing with Jordan even if such steps lead to a confrontation with the Israeli army and settlers. While findings show widespread opposition to return to an armed intifada, a majority supports, and wants to participate in, large scale peaceful demonstrations. Only 50% however expect Palestine to become a member of the UN this month.
Findings also show that the popularity of Abbas and Fateh has increased somewhat in light of the debate over the UN step. Findings also show a surprising increase in the percentage of those who wish to immigrate from the Gaza Strip, reaching 50%. They also show widespread criticism of, and objection to, Hamas’ government decision to ban travel of Gazan students to the US for studies and to the decision requiring prior approval of NGO staff to travel abroad to participate in conferences. Findings also show very little support to the decision by the PA Attorney General to ban the airing of the satirical TV series “Watan ala Water” seeing the decision as a violation of the freedom of expression.
(1) Going to the UN:
- 83% support going to the UNSC to obtain recognition of Palestine as a state. Moreover, 74% believe that there is no point in returning to negotiations with Israel without acceptable terms of reference or without freezing settlement construction and that therefore president Abbas is right in seeking UN involvement.
- In response to the Palestinian decision to go to the UN, an overwhelming majority of 78% expects Israel to suspend transfer of custom funds to the PA or to suspend the transfer and take additional measures to make occupation harsher by setting more checkpoints and expanding settlement construction.
- Similarly, 64% expect the US to respond to the UN drive by suspending its financial contribution to the PA or by suspending the contribution and imposing political restrictions.
- 77% expect the US to use its veto power at the UNSC to prevent admission of Palestine to the UN but 58% believe that most European countries will recognize the new state of Palestine.
- 50% expect Palestine to become a UN member state this September and 43% do not expect that.
- After the UN recognition of Palestine as a state, 75% (76% in the West Bank and 71% in the Gaza Strip) want the PA to exercise sovereignty throughout the entire West Bank even if such a measure leads to a confrontation between the PA and the Israeli army and settlers.
- Similarly,73% (71% in the West Bank and 77% in the Gaza Strip) want the PA to assert Palestinian sovereignty over the Allenby crossing with Jordan even if such a step leads to the closure of the crossing
- Only 35% support a return to an armed intifada and 64% oppose it.
- By contrast, 61% support resort to popular, unarmed and non-violent resistance and 54% say they will participate in peaceful demonstrations that would seek to breach checkpoints and block roads used by Israeli army and settlers after the UN recognition of the state of Palestine
(2) Domestic Conditions:
- 23% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good and 50% describe them as bad or very bad. By contrast, 39% describe conditions in the West Bank as good or very good and 30% describe them as bad or very bad.
- 71% say there is corruption in the PA institutions in the West Bank while only 58% say there is corruption in the institutions of the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip. These percentages are similar to those obtained three months ago.
- 65% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank and 30% say there is no such freedom in the West Bank. By contrast, 48% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip while 38% say there is no such freedom in the Gaza Strip.
- 36% say people in the West Bank can criticize the authority in the West Bank without fear. By contrast, 26% say people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear.
- Perception of safety and security stands at 68% in the West Bank and 65% in the Gaza Strip.
- Positive evaluation of the performance of the governments of Ismail Haniyeh stands at 34% and Salam Fayyad’s at 53%. Three months ago, these percentages stood at 39% and 43% respectively.
- Findings show that the percentage of Gazans who say they seek immigration to other countries stands at 49%; in the West Bank, the percentage stands at 28%. Three months ago, these figures stood at 40% and 26% respectively.
- Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at 52% while 44% say they are dissatisfied with his performance. Satisfaction with the performance of the president stands at 39% in the Gaza Strip and 59% in the West Bank.
(3) Presidency and Legislative Elections:
- If new presidential elections are held today, and only two were nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 59% and Haniyeh 34% of the vote of those participating. The rate of participation in such election would reach 60%. In the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives 51% and Haniyeh 42% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 63% and Haniyeh 29%. These results indicate a significant increase in Abbas’ popularity and a decline in Haniyeh’s compared to the situation three months ago when Abbas received the support of 54% and Haniyeh 38%.
- If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 65% and the latter would receive 30% of the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach 67%.
- If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 67% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 29% say they would vote for Hamas and 45% say they would vote for Fateh, 13% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 14% are undecided. These results indicate an increase of three percentage points in Fateh’s popularity compared to the situation three months ago. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip in this poll stands at 36 % and in the West Bank 25%. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip stands at 43% and in the West Bank 46%.
(4) Banning the TV series “Watan ala Watar” in the West Bank and travel ban in the Gaza Strip:
- Only 23% support the decision by PA’s Attorney General to ban the satirical TV series “Watan ala Water” and 42% oppose the decision while 35% have no opinion on the matter. Supporters of the decision accuse the series of mocking PA institutions and ridiculing its leaders or being of low quality and repulsive. Opposition to the decision is based on the argument that it represents a gross violation of freedom of expression or because it is not up to the Attorney General to suspend a TV series.
- 71% oppose and 20% support the decision by the Hamas government to prevent students who received scholarships from Amideast to travel to the US for studies.
- Similarly, 63% oppose and 27% support the decision by the Hamas government instructing staff of NGOs wishing to travel abroad to attend conferences to submit a request for permission to travel two weeks in advance of travel date.
(5) Most vital Palestinian goals and the main problems confronting Palestinians today:
- The largest percentage (59%) believes that the first most vital Palestinian goal should be to end Israeli occupation in the areas occupied in 1967 and build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. By contrast, 24% believe the first most vital goal should be to obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages, 11% believe that it should be to build a pious or moral individual and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings, and 7% believe that the first and most vital goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians. Three months ago, only 48% viewed statehood within the 1967 borders as the most vital goal. It is likely that the drive to gain UN membership and recognition has pushed this goal to the top priority for a greater number of Palestinians.
- Five main problems confront Palestinians today: the most serious in the eyes of 25% of the public problem is the spread of poverty and unemployment while an identical percentage believes that it is the absence of national unity due to the West Bank-Gaza Strip, and 24% believe that it is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities while 13% believe it to be the corruption in some public institutions, and 7% believe it to be the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings.
* This survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah.
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