CPRS Polls - Survey Research Unit
Public Opinion Poll #10
Elections, Economic Conditions, Palestinian Prisoners, Palestinian Police, and Jerusalem June 30, 1994
This is the tenth public opinion poll conducted by the Survey Research Unit (SRU) at the Center for Palestine Research and Studies. This poll focuses on elections; Palestinian perceptions of Israeli commitments to the agreements, performance of Palestinian police and PLO negotiators; and expectations regarding economic conditions in the future and the final status of Jerusalem. SRU conducts a monthly public opinion poll to document an important phase in the history of the Palestinian people and to record the reactions of the Palestinian community with regard to current political events. CPRS does not adopt political positions and does not tolerate attempts to influence the conclusions reached or published for political motives. CPRS is committed to providing a scholarly contribution to analysis and objective study and to publishing the results of all our studies and research. The poll results are published independently and with unit analysis in both Arabic and English. They provide a vital resource for the community and for researchers needing statistical information and analysis. The polls give members of the community opportunity to voice their opinion and to seek to influence decision makers on issues of concern to them. In a broader sense, SRU strives to promote the status of scientific research in Palestine.

Enclosed are the results of the most recent public opinion poll that has been conducted in the West Bank (including Arab Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip (see Appendix A).


Table of Contents

General Background

This poll was conducted on Thursday, June 30, 1994. June was the second month in the implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement signed in Cairo on May 4, 1994. Palestinians got an opportunity during this month to get an initial glimpse of autonomy in action, the most visible institution of which until this point has been the police force. The issue of Palestinians still incarcerated in Israeli prisons was at the forefront of Palestinian concerns this month, and was the subject of many demonstrations and strikes. Rumors of Yassir Arafat's visit to the area throughout the month culminated in an announcement on the day of the poll of his imminent arrival. Another issue during this period was the delay in disbursing promised funds to the Palestinian authority on the part of the donor countries.

Methodology

The questionnaire was designed through consultations with local and international experts. The format was changed during this poll in order to expedite the coding and data entry process. Researchers were asked to mark respondents' answers in boxes next to the questions, making it possible to enter the coded data directly from the questionnaire and eliminating the need for code sheets. Besides saving time, this process increased accuracy since it eliminated a step with potential for clerical error. While a separate coding step was no longer necessary, coders did check each questionnaire to ensure that they were completed properly prior to the data entry.

Polling Districts

As in last month's poll, the West Bank was divided into eight polling areas (Nablus, Tulkarm, Jenin, Jericho, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron) which were in turn divided into eighteen polling districts. Gaza was divided into six polling areas . CPRS created a list of all locations in Gaza, and a random sample of locations to be surveyed was selected from lists that divided the locations according to population size, type of locality (city, camp, village) and degree of development. The division utilized promotes the random nature and representation of the sample.

The sample that we obtained through this system of division enabled us to understand political positions and voting patterns in :

  1. The Occupied Territories as a whole (West Bank and Gaza)
  2. The West Bank and Gaza separately
  3. Polling areas separately
  4. Polling districts separately
We received 1974 questionnaires from the West Bank and Gaza, of which 1307 are from the West Bank and 667 are from Gaza.

Sample Distribution

(Expressed as a % of the total sample)
Area of Residence
Following the News
West Bank "including Jerusalem"
Gaza Strip
66.2%

38.8%
City
Town
Village
Refugee Camps
38.0%
08.7%
31.2%
22.1
Always
Often
Sometimes
Never
33.1%
27.1%
36.2%
03.6%
Age
Sex
Education
18-22
23-26
27-30
31-35
36-42
43-50
51+
21.5%
18.6%
16.4
%
12.4
%
12.1%
09.2%

09.8%
Males
Females
58.8%
41.2%
Up to 9 years (elem./prep)
Up to 12 years (Tawjihi)
2 year College
University (BA)
MA + Phd.
30.2%

32.6%

16.5%
19.2%
01.5%
Refugee Status
Marital Status
Area
Occupation
Ref.
NonRef.
44.4
55.6
Single
Married
Divorced & Widowed
31.8%
64.5%
03.7%
Nablus
Tulkarem
Jenin
Jericho
Ramallah
Hebron
Bethlehem
Jerusalem
Gaza A
Gaza B
Gaza C
Gaza D
Gaza E
Gaza F
10.4
08.6
08.4
01.9
10.5
12.3
06.8
07.2
06.2
06.0
05.8
05.3
06.0
04.6
Laborers
Merchants
Craftsmen
Students
Housewives
Farmers
Employees*
Specialists**
Unemployed
Retired
15.0%
08.6%
10.1%
12.8%
20.6%
02.1%
18.6%
04.0%
07.7%
00.5%
* Employees: Schoolteacher, Government Employee, Nurse, Lower-level Company Employee, Secretary, etc.
** Specialists: University Teacher, Engineer, Doctor, Lawyer, Pharmacist, Executive, etc.
***A new question for the demographic section as an initial attempt to measure information access and basis for Palestinian opinions.
****Gaza A) Jabalyia, al-Nazla; B) Rimal; C) al-Zaytoun, Sabra; D) Deir Balah, Bureij; E) Khan Younis Area; F) Rafah.

Data Collection

To complete the data collection process, the choice of interview stations was based on our previous experience in the last nine polls. To ensure the representation of Palestinians in all districts, the focus was on areas that attracted villagers and refugee camp residents. Data collectors carried with them an exhaustive list of villages and refugee camps in each district. This allowed them to reach their target sample as efficiently as possible. The method for sample selection during data collection was changed slightly in an effort to reduce interviewer bias. Instead of choosing a respondent based solely on an enumeration system, data collectors were instructed to choose a specific point in their interview area (a utility pole, crosswalk, etc) and interview the first person to cross that point. At exactly 10 minutes after the beginning of the interview (the average interview takes six or seven minutes), the fieldworker was to choose the person crossing their landmark as their next respondent. In addition to reducing choice of respondent for the interviewer, this method is more conducive to monitoring since any observer could easily determine the system being used and then monitor to see that it is consistently followed. It appears that the system increased the representative nature of the sample, as the percentage of women and older individuals in the sample was higher from previous polls. The system did have a few limitations, however. Female fieldworkers, particularly in Gaza, found it difficult to stand in a single place for long periods of time without drawing unwelcome attention. Also, most fieldworkers, regardless of gender, faced a problem of drawing a crowd because they were not able to move around in their general area and thus avoid attracting attention from curious people in the area.

In the Gaza Strip, fieldworkers visited randomly selected towns, villages, and refugee camps. Here, around 50% of the interviews were conducted in households to ensure the representation of women. The rest of the interviews were conducted in public places.

Our data collectors have participated in a number of workshops where the goals of the poll were discussed. They were also lectured on sampling techniques, survey methods, scientific research, and fieldwork. Two special training seminars for data collectors were conducted during this month, attended by a total of sixty-four fieldworkers. The first, on Sunday, June 5, was held in Gaza for the Gaza area fieldworkers, and the second, on Monday, June 6, was held at Birzeit University for all West Bank fieldworkers. Expert consultants for these sessions were Roz Tartaglione, designer and supervisor of fieldworker training for the first national public opinion poll in Nepal, and David Pollock of USIA, author of Polling in the Arab World. Topics covered during the workshops included the importance of sound methodology in survey research and examples of interviewer bias, using visual aides and simulation exercises. Another three training sessions were held last month in Gaza, Nablus, and Birzeit. These were sponsored by the International Republican Institute and attended by Lauren Ross of the same institute. Expert consultant for these sessions was Dr. Mark Tessler.

Data collectors worked in groups supervised by qualified researchers. CPRS researchers made random visits to interview stations and discussed the research process with data collectors. More than fifty percent of our data collectors were female, so as to ensure the representation of women in the sample. All interviews took place on the same day and were conducted on a face-to-face basis. Data collectors were assigned a limited number of interviews (an average of 35) to allow for careful interviewing. In general, the public forum of interviews contributed to a 10% non-response rate which was not included in the sample. A large number of non-respondents were women not accustomed to talking to strangers in public places, probably due to cultural constraints. Some non-respondents, we believe, were reluctant to state their political affiliation out of fear or ambivalence.


Data Analysis

Data were processed through the use of SPSS, a computer package that is able to detect illogical answers and other inconsistencies. The margin of error for this poll is less than 3%, and the confidence level is higher than 95%.

Remarks

Elections

According to the DoP, elections for PISGA should take place July 13, 1994. However, the date for elections has been postponed until October, according to Sa'ib Iraqat, the head of the official Palestinian election commission. This postponement did not dampen Palestinian enthusiasm for elections, as 76% chose elections as the best means to choose the members of PISGA. Only 14.8% of the respondents felt that the PLO should select the members of PISGA. The poll shows that the majority of the supporters of all groups prefers elections to appointments as the means to select the members of PISGA (See Table 1).

Table 1

Relationship Between Political Affiliation and Preferred Means to Select PISGA Members

                 PLO              Appointment by   Elections %      Other %  
                 Appointment %    Faction Quota%                             
PFLP             2.5              10.8             84.2             2.5      
DFLP             9.8              7.3              78.0             4.9      
Hamas            6.9              7.3              83.5             2.3      
Isl. Jihad       11.7             10.0             75.0             3.3      
Fateh            26.5             3.4              68.8             1.3      
Feda             9.1              12.1             78.8             ---      
H.al-Sha'b       ---              10.8             89.2             ---      
Isl. Ind.        2.2              3.3              93.5             1.0      
Nat'l Ind        5.2              6.7              86.7             1.4      
Other            12.2             10.2             71.4             6.2      
No one           9.0              4.7              71.9             14.4     

Support for elections can be found among men (79.3%) more than women (71.5%). This is due, in part, to a high level of education among men, where the poll results show that there is a correlation between education and attitude towards elections, where those with the most education show the highest support for elections.

The poll also shows that professionals are least supportive of the PLO leadership appointing the members of PISGA, with only 6.6% of them indicating their support. In contrast, we find that 22% of the housewives surveyed support appointment by the PLO. There is also a correlation between awareness of the news and views on elections. A total of 78.4% of those who always follow the news chose elections as the best means to select the members of PISGA, whereas only 12.5% of the same group prefer appointments by the PLO. In contrast, we find that 63.8% of those who do not follow the news chose elections and 23.2% of them chose appointment by the PLO leadership.

The majority of Palestinians (67.8%) intend to participate in elections if and when they are held. The poll confirms that as the date for elections gets closer (originally July, but postponed until October of this year), support for participation in elections rises, especially in Gaza. In October 1993, 60% of Gaza respondents said that they will participate in elections, compared with 72.1% in June 1994.

It seems that the implementation of the DoP in Gaza and Jericho has generated higher confidence levels in the on-going political process which resulted in higher levels of willingness to participate in elections resulting from the agreement. We find that the intention to participate in elections for PISGA is highest in Jericho (83.3%) and Gaza (72.1%). The aforementioned argument does not fully apply to the rest of the West Bank. In the Hebron area, for example, only 59.7% declared that they want to participate in elections.

The intention to participate is as low as 56.3% in the Jerusalem area . This may be attributed to a lower rate of support for Fateh in this area and a higher support for "independents" and "others". The residents of Jerusalem express uncertainty about the future (as indicated by the poll question on the future of Jerusalem). This uncertainty leads many of the area residents to be apprehensive about participating in elections.

Intention to participate in elections for PISGA is correlated with political affiliation. The largest percentage of the supporters of all political groups showed an intention to participate. A total of 90.9% of Feda supporters, 86.9% of Hizb el-Sha'b supporters, and 84.6% of Fateh supporters intend to participate, compared with 55.7% of Islamic Jihad supporters, 54.8% of Hamas supporters, 53.7% of DFLP supporters, and 42.6% of PFLP supporters.(see Table 2)

Table 2

Intention to Participate in Elections by Political Affiliation

                 Yes %            No %              Not Sure %             
PFLP             42.6             32.8              24.6                   
DFLP             53.7             46.7              ----                   
Hamas            54.8             30.0              15.2                   
Isl. Jihad       55.7             29.5              14.8                   
Fateh            84.6             5.6               9.8                    
Feda             90.9             6.1               3.0                    
H.al-Sha'b       86.5             2.7               10.8                   
Isl. Ind.        64.1             14.2              21.7                   
Nat'l Ind        67.9             10.4              21.7                   
Other            79.6             10.2              10.2                   
No one           41.6             38.4              20.0                   

Economic Conditions

Palestinians were asked two questions with regard to economic conditions. First, they were asked if they are currently able to meet their basic monthly household expenses. Also, they were asked about their expectations with regard to changes in their standard of living under Palestinian self-rule. These questions were important for two reasons. Palestinians are discussing a deteriorating economic situation, possibly due to a sharp increase in unemployment following the closure of the West Bank and Gaza, and researchers felt that it was important to measure the extent of economic hardship among Palestinians; also, the issue of expectations needed to be measured as much as possible. There is a sense that Palestinians felt that their living standards would improve under Palestinian rule. If this in fact turned out to be the expectation, then whether or not such improvement materialized would be important with regard to satisfaction and frustration levels in the community vis-a-vis the authority.

The results of the poll show that as much as 44.5% of Palestinian households are unable to meet their basic monthly household expenses. As expected, economic hardship is a characteristic of the Gaza Strip (with a majority living in the refugee camps) more than the West Bank. The majority of Gaza households surveyed (52.5%) indicated that they are unable to meet their basic monthly household expenses. This is compared with 40.5% in the West Bank. Another 40.2% of Gazans indicated that they are able to meet these expenses. This higher than expected percentage could be due to the fact that for many Gazans, particularly those living in refugee camps, receive UNRWA assistance in meeting their housing, education, and health needs.

At the same time we find that expectations for a better standard of living are higher in Gaza than in the West Bank. A total of 45.1% of Gazans expect that the implementation of self-rule will result in better living conditions. In comparison, 31.4% of West Bank respondents felt the same way. Our previous polls have consistently shown that Gazans are generally more optimistic about the future than West Bankers. Economic desperation in Gaza combined with the changes on the ground due to the initial implementation of the agreement yields a situation of higher expectations.

We also notice that respondents from areas such as Jerusalem and Hebron, with the lowest levels of hardship (as indicated by the results of the household expense question) have the lowest expectations as to improvement in living conditions with the implementation of self-rule. In contrast, respondents from areas such as Gaza and Jericho with high levels of hardship (as indicated by the results of the household expense question) have the highest expectations. These high expectations may also be due to the fact that a Palestinian authority is in place in these areas and that many of the residents trust that this authority will be able to improve economic and living conditions. These high expectations can only add to the pressure on the Palestinian National Authority in these areas.

The ability to meet basic economic needs is correlated with education where we find that 40.2% of respondents with 9 years of education or less indicating that they are able to cover their basic monthly expenses, compared with 53.8% of those with a bachelor's degree. A higher level of education (Master's or PhD) has a drastic influence on respondents' perceptions of their living conditions. A total of 80% of those with high degrees indicated that they are able to cover their basic monthly expenses.

[ PSR Home ] [ Index of Polls ] [ This Poll's Previous Section ] [ This Poll's Next Section ]