PA and PLC Performance, Democracy, Armed Attacks, Local Councils and a Permanent Status Plan

April 1997

These are the results of opinion poll #27, conducted by the Center for Palestine Research & Studies, between 10-12 April 1997. The poll deals with performance of the PLC, PA Cabinet, the President, etc., the peace process and armed attacks, democracy and corruption, local government, and a permanent status plan. The total sample size of this poll is 1334 from Palestinians 18 years and older, of which 824 in the West Bank and 510 in the Gaza Strip.

The margin of error is + 3%, and the non-response rate is 3%. 


1. The Peace Process and Armed Attacks:

The poll found that support for the peace process has declined sharply from 73% a month ago to 60% in April; and support for suicide armed attacks has almost doubled in one year from 21% in March 1996 (see CPRS Poll #22) to 40% in April 1997. Support for the peace process reached its highest point of 81% in June 1996. The current level of support is the lowest since the Baruch Goldstein massacre in Hebron in February 1994 when 39% opposed return to negotiations and only 17% supported an unconditional return.

The sharpest decline in support for the peace process occurred in the Gaza Strip where it declined from 81% in March 1996 to 60% now. This sharp decline in the level of support for the peace process in Gaza is even more serious because it is accompanied by a dramatic increase in the level of Gazan support for suicide attacks. The latest bombing attack in Tel Aviv received 44% support in the Gaza Strip (compared to 38% in the West Bank); while the suicide attacks of last February-March 1996 received only 17% in the Gaza Strip (compared to 24% in the West Bank).

Another interesting finding from Gaza indicates that Hamas has gained more support there increasing its share in public support from 7% in March 1997 (CPRS Poll 26) to 11% in this poll. These findings, while inconclusive, may indicate that the trend in Gaza toward "moderation", which started about 18 months ago, may be ending.

Support for the Tel Aviv bombing attack is high among students and the young (45%). It is also higher in refugee camps (45%) compared to cities (36%); among females (45%) compared to males (36%); and among Hamas supporters (60%) compared to Fateh supporters (39%).


2. Abu Mazin-Beilin Plan for the permanent settlement:

Support for a Palestinian version of the so-called Abu Mazin-Beilin Permanent Status Plan reaches 43% in April 1997 compared to 20% support for an Israeli version of the same plan in March 1997. Respondents were informed of the components of the two versions, but were not told in this and the previous poll that they were being asked about the so-called Abu Mazin-Beilin Plan. The components of the two versions of the Plan were obtained from Palestinian and Israeli newspapers and other sources.

The highest level of support went to the component on the settlement of the refugee problem, in the Palestinian version, receiving 55% support (compared to 44% support to the Israeli version). The establishment of a sovereign but disarmed state in 95% of the West Bank and the whole Gaza Strip received a majority support of 52%. The Israeli version of this component spoke of a sovereign but demilitarized state in most of the West Bank and Gaza and received only 16% support in our March 1997 poll. Israeli annexation of settlements in the form of land exchange of 5% of the territory of the West Bank received only 32% support. The Israeli version of this component did not specify the size of territory and received only 18% support.

The third component of the plan did not have significant differences in the two versions; the Palestinian version spoke of settlers remaining as individuals under Palestinian sovereignty and law and received 42% support. The Israeli version also received 42% support. The fourth component dealt with refugees and differed from the Israeli version in that it explicitly stated that while refugees do not return to their homes inside Israel, they do not renounce the principle of their right of return. The fifth component of the Plan dealt with security arrangements and Israeli military withdrawal form Palestine. The Palestinian version spoke of agreed upon, limited and temporary Israeli presence and joint Israeli-Palestinian patrols along the Jordan River and received 42% support (compared to 8% support for the Israeli version). The last component dealt with Jerusalem and the Palestinian version received 27% support while the Israeli version received only 9% support. The Palestinian version spoke of a united Jerusalem under Israeli control (not sovereignty) but with the understanding that the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would revert to Palestinian sovereignty at a later stage. It also spoke of a Palestinian capital in an Arab Jerusalem neighborhood outside the current boundaries of the city municipality and of Palestinian sovereignty over Muslim and Christian holy places in the old city.

High support for the Palestinian version of the plan is found in Ramallah (59%) compared to Jenin and Hebron (31% and 34% respectively); in cities (45%) compared to Refugee camps (40%); among Fateh supporters (50%) compared to Hamas'(37%).


3. Public Perception of the Performance of the PLC, the President, and Other Institutions:

Palestinian public perception of the performance of the PLC has not changed since September 1996: now 48% consider its performance as good or very good compared to 47% in September 1996 and 50% in December 1996. Positive perception of the performance of the President remains very high at 79% compared to 72% in September 1996 and 76% in December 1996. The Cabinet receives a positive rating of 59%; security forces receive 77%; and the judicial authorities receive 55%. The performance of the opposition receives the lowest rating of 45%.

Despite the low overall rating of the PLC, its performance regarding the specific issue of defending Jerusalem receives a very high rating of 69% reflecting public appreciation of the Council's role in defending Palestinian rights in Jabal Abu Ghnaim. On the other hand, the Council received its lowest rating of 42% for its performance in "solving people's problems " reflecting people's frustration with the inability of the Council to take effective and practical measures to address people's needs. Despite the relatively high rating of the overall performance of the Cabinet, it receives, nonetheless, the lowest rating of 25% for its performance in the economy and a low rating of 44% in the democracy and human rights field. It receives the high rating of 68% for its performance in providing public security.


4. Status of Democracy in Palestine and Other Countries:

Palestinian public perception of the status of democracy and human rights in the West Bank and Gaza has improved somewhat with 50% expressing the belief that it is good or very good compared to 44% in December 1996. Compared to other countries, Palestine came after Israel (which received 77% in April and 78% last December), US (66% in April and 68% in December), and France (61% in April and 60% in December); it came before Jordan (38% in April and 34% in December) and Egypt (37% in April and 34% in December). A majority of 52% agree or strongly agree that the rule in Palestine is moving toward democracy and respect for human rights, but 26% disagree or strongly disagree with that. On the other hand, 22% agree or strongly agree that we are moving toward a dictatorship, while 54% disagree or strongly disagree with that.

Positive evaluation of the status of democracy in Palestine is strong in Gaza South (61%) and weak in Bethlehem (34%); among females (64%) than males (45%); among illiterates (58%) than university degree holders (48%), among farmers (60%) and housewives (55%)than students (45%); and among Fateh supporters (62%) than Hamas supporters (41%). Positive perception of Israeli and American democracies is evident not only among supporters of the peace process, but also among supporters of the opposition. For example, 80% of Hamas supporters evaluated Israeli democracy as good or very good, and 71% of the same supporters evaluated American democracy as good or very good.


5. Corruption in the Institutions of the Palestinian Authority:

The percentage of those who believe that corruption exists in the institutions and agencies of the PA has increased for the third consecutive time: it now stands at 57%; in December 1996, it was 51% compared to 49% in September 1996. Moreover, 53% of those who believe that corruption exits, also believe that it will increase or remain unchanged in the future. Last December only 42% believed that corruption will increase or remain the same, compared with 50% in September 1996.

The belief in the existence of corruption reaches 62% in Ramallah compared to 58% in Gaza city and 46% in Nablus. As in previous surveys, it is also higher among males (69%) than females (45%); among the young than the old with a difference of about 15 percentage points; among employees (77%) than laborers (60%) and housewives (42%); and among Hamas supporters (72%) than Fateh's (53%).


6. Local Councils: Performance and Elections

A majority of 52% expressed satisfaction with the performance of their local councils labeling it good or very good. Only 27% said it was bad or very bad. The highest satisfaction went to the performance of the councils in providing electricity (79%), followed by performance in providing water (62%), building and maintaining roads (49%), and cleaning streets (47%). In the Gaza Strip, the high ratings went to Gaza City (62%) followed by Gaza north (54%), Middle Gaza (51%), and lastly South Gaza (44%). In the West Bank the high ratings went to local councils in the areas of Nablus (66%) followed by Ramallah (54%), Hebron (48%), Jenin (44%), Bethlehem (41%), Tulkarm (35%), Jerusalem (34%), and lastly Jericho ( 27%). These ratings are for all councils in the areas concerned and not only for city municipalities. When asked if they would vote for the existing mayors and other heads of local councils, 42% of all respondents said yes while 41% said no.


7. Political Affiliation:

Support for Fateh dropped from 46% last month to 41% in this month. In the West Bank Fateh received 38% only, compared to 42% last month; in Gaza it received 46% compared to 52% last month. Support for Hamas increased in the Gaza Strip from 7% last March to 11% in this poll. There has been no change in the percentage of people who did not support any of the known factions and political parties...More