Abu Ghneim, Armed Attacks, Permanent Settlement, Peace Process, and Local Elections

March 1997


These are the results of opinion poll #26, conducted by the Center for Palestine Research & Studies, between 6-9 March 1997. The poll deals with Israeli settlement activities in Abu Ghnaim, armed attacks, a permanent settlement plan, support for the peace process, and refugees' participation in local elections. The total sample size of this poll is 1549 (18 years or older), of which 1031 from the West Bank and 518 from the Gaza Strip. Two hundred questionnaires were added as an additional sample for refugee camps, falling inside and outside municipal boundaries of Palestinian cities in the West Bank, in order to better understand the attitudes of refugees living in these camps regarding participation in local municipal elections. The data was then weighted to reduce the effect of the increased weight of refugees in the original sample. The weighted sample size is 1542, of which 984 from the West Bank and 558 in the Gaza Strip. The margin of error is + 3%, and the non-response rate is 2%.


(1) Israeli Building in Abu Ghnaim (Har Homa):

Only 9% think that carrying armed attacks against Israeli targets is the best means to express opposition to Israeli decision to build in Abu Ghnaim. A majority of 56% believe that negotiations with Israel is the best means to deal with the issue; while almost 30% support nonviolent confrontations and a return to Intifada.

Despite the low level of support for armed attacks in this case, a high level of 38% continues to generally support armed attacks against Israeli targets. The general level for armed attacks stood at 40% last December. A year ago, only 21% supported the suicide attacks of February 1996. (see poll # 22).


(2) Permanent Settlement Plan:

About 20% of the Palestinians support, and 77% oppose, the permanent settlement plan which was revealed by Israeli sources several months ago calling for: {1} the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza; {2} the annexation to Israel of some settlements blocs; [3} some Israeli settlers to live under Palestinian sovereignty; {4} return of refugees to Palestinian state only; {5} security arrangements allowing Israeli military patrols along the Jordan river; and {6 } Jerusalem to remain united and capital of Israel while the Palestinian capital is established in adjacent villages outside the municipal boundaries of the city in such areas as Abu Dis and al- Ayzariya, and al-Haram al-Sharif is placed under Palestinian sovereignty.

Opposition is stronger to items 1,2,5, and 6, and softer to items 3 and 4.


(3) Support for the Peace Process and the Hebron Agreement:

Despite the tense situation today, a majority of 65% of the Palestinians are optimistic about the future. In September 1996, the level of optimism stood at 53%. Support for the current peace process is relatively high (73% compared to 79% in December 1996); while 50% think that the peace process will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. This is similar to results obtained in September 1996, when 51% thought that the peace process will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Surprisingly however, only 41% (compared to 44% in June 1996) think that the permanent status negotiations will lead to solutions acceptable to the two sides.

Despite that, however, 91% of the Palestinians do not trust the intentions of the current Israeli government. It is worth mentioning that in July 1995, 81% of Palestinians said that they did not trust Israel's intentions. Nonetheless, the Hebron agreement receives 61% support and only 21% opposition. The opposition to the agreement is strongest in Hebron itself where 44% are opposed and 45% are supportive (the weighted sample of Hebron is 165).


(4) Economic Situation and the Peace Process:

Despite the widespread support for the peace process, a majority of Palestinians believe that the peace process has negatively affected general Palestinian economic situation and their own personal situation. Only 13% say that their personal economic situation has become better, while 52% say it has become worse since the beginning of the peace process. The poll found that the unemployment rate in March 1997 is 35% of which 31% in the West Bank and 43% in the Gaza Strip. The rates for December 1996 were 31% of which 25% were in the West Bank and 44% were in the Gaza Strip.


(5) Refugee Camps and Local Elections:

About 64% of Palestinians support the participation of residents of refugee camps, located within existing municipal boundaries of cities, in the local elections for these city municipalities, while only 25% support holding independent elections to select separate local councils for these camps.

On the other hand, only 40% support the inclusion of refugee camps located outside the existing municipal boundaries of cities into these city municipalities; while 44% support the formation of independent local councils for these camps..More