This is the twenty-fifth public opinion poll conducted by the Survey Research Unit (SRU), at the Center for Palestine Research & Studies (CPRS). It covers the topics of the peace process, armed attacks against Israelis, evaluation of the three branches of the Palestinian government and the police and security services, corruption in PA institutions and the status of democracy in Palestine and in other countries.
The SRU has been conducting regular public opinion polls to document an important phase in the history of the Palestinian people and to record the reactions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to current events. The CPRS does not adopt political positions and does not tolerate attempts to influence the conclusions it reaches. It is committed to providing a scholarly contribution to the study of Palestinian politics. Toward this end, poll results provide a vital resource for researchers needing statistical information and analysis. The polls also give members of the Palestinian community an opportunity to voice their opinions and to seek to influence decision-makers on issues of concern to them.
The following is an analysis of the results obtained in the twenty-fifth public opinion poll conducted by the SRU in the period from 26-28,December,1996.
- General Background
- Sample Distribution
- Sample Selection
- Data Collection
- Data Analysis
- The Peace Process and Armed Attacks
- Performance of the Palestinian Government
- The Palestinian Legislative Council
- Corruption and al-Wasta
- Dealing with Palestinian Authority Institutions
- The Status of Democracy in Palestine
The poll was preceded by continuous, but yet unsuccessful, efforts of Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to finalize the Hebron agreement, There were reports of continued Israeli efforts to build Jewish settlements in the Arab part of Jerusalem. Similarly, there were report of Israeli settlement activities and land confiscation on other parts of the West Bank. Several demonstrations took place against Israeli settlement policy. Israeli soldiers opened fire on one of these demonstration killing one and injuring 13 other Palestinians.
An armed attack carried out by PFLP members against Israeli settlers near Ramallah led to the death of a mother and her son and the wounding of five other members of the family. Israel imposed a siege on Ramallah for two weeks, and the Palestinian police succeeded in arresting the attackers who received sentences ranging between life imprisonment and 15 years in jail. The period before the poll also witnessed an incident in which an Israeli settler beat to death a Palestinian boy. Another Israeli shot to death a Palestinian worker from the Gaza Strip.
Elections at An-Najah university led to a victory for the Islamic bloc which received 39 seats compared to Fateh which received 36 only. There was talk of internal Palestinian dialogue. The Palestinian legislative council completed its debate about the civil service law and passed the local election law. In early December, a Palestinian prisoner died while in custody in a jail in Jericho.
The questionnaire used in this poll was designed by CPRS researchers. Prior to the polling dates, the questionnaire was pre-tested on 50 respondents in the Nablus area. As in all of our polls, it includes numerous demographic and attitudinal variables. (See Table 1 for the demographic distribution of the sample and the attached list of questions.) Interviews were conducted between 26-28 December 1996 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). The total sample is 1,307, with 804 from the West Bank and 503 from the Gaza Strip.
Demographic Distribution & Characteristics of Sample, weighted percentages & counts*
Characteristic % of Total Count Characteristic % of Total Count Region
Up to 9 years
Area of Residence
Divorced or Widowed
Retired 0.7 7.0 Gender
* Note, as discussed more fully below, the sample size (expressed in counts and percentages) has been weighted in order to obtain unbiased estimates.
** Includes all post-secondary degree holders.
*** Specialists are defined as Professors/University Instructors, Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, Pharmacists or Executives.
**** Employees are defined as School Teachers, Government Employees, Nurses or Lower-Level Company Employees.
The sample in this poll was obtained using a multi-stage sampling technique. There are four stages in the process of randomly selecting units of the population into the sample. These are the following:
1) selecting population locations with probabilities proportional to size of sample (PPS);
2) selecting one or two random blocs from each location;
3) selecting a household using systematic random sampling; and
4) selecting a person 18-years or older from the household.
We used 120 population locations in this poll, from which 1,307 respondents were selected into the sample. In this poll, the gender distribution does not reflect expected population parameters and therefore had to be weighted to obtain unbiased estimates of the actual population. Specifically, we obtained an unequal distribution of men and women in the sample (i.e., 41.5% men and 58.5% women), which was corrected by reducing the base of the sample size to n=1,092. This reduction does not affect the margin of error, but does equalize the gender distribution of the sample.
At the first stage of sampling, CPRS fieldworkers and researchers map the population centers randomly selected into the sample. These maps indicate the boundaries, main streets and clusters of residential neighborhoods in these areas. These areas are further divided into one or two sampling units (blocs), with each bloc comprising an average of 100 housing units.
Households are selected based on a systematic sampling procedure. For example, if the fieldworkers estimate the number of houses in the bloc to be 100 and were assigned 10 interviews, the fieldworkers divide 100 by 10, obtaining 10. The fieldworkers then conduct the first interview in the 10th household, the second in the 20th and so forth. Fieldworkers start their sample selection of households from a recognized landmark such as a post office, mosque or business. They are instructed to report the direction of their sampling routes and play an active role in drawing maps of each locality as well as estimating the number of housing units in each bloc.
Prior to the survey, our fieldworkers participate in a number of workshops and training sessions where we discuss the aims and methods of the poll. The topics we cover are household interviewing techniques, confidence building, mapping and sampling procedures. Four special training seminars were held prior to the poll which were attended by a total of 75 fieldworkers.
Fieldworkers are grouped into teams of two (male+female) who are supervised by senior CPRS researchers. Senior researchers visit the interview locations to discuss the survey process with the teams. More than fifty percent of our fieldworkers are female, so as to facilitate work and to ensure the representation of women in the sample. Tallow for careful interviewing, fieldworkers are assigned a limited number of interviews (an average of 22 per team), 11 for each location.
The non-response rate for this sample is approximately 7%. Some respondents, we believe, were reluctant to state their views out of fear or disinterest in the present political circumstances.
The data were processed through SPSS/DE, a computer program that is able to detect illogical answers and other inconsistencies. SPSS/PC was used for data analysis.
For this poll, we estimate the margin of error to be +3%.
The results of this poll show that the total unemployment rate for the West Bank and Gaza Strip is 31%, which indicates 7-percentage point decline since September 1996 (Poll #24) and an 18-point decrease since March 1996 (Poll #22). As consistently found in previous polls, unemployment in the Gaza Strip (44%) is higher than in the West Bank (25%). The high rates can be mainly attributed to the continued closures of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the February and March 1996 bombings. Note, these figures are based on respondents 18-years or older and on a definition of unemployment used by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Attitudes toward the continuation of the peace process with Israel is rising at the same time that support for armed attacks against Israelis has increased. Such support for political strategies and positions that contradict the basis of continuing peace process, is partly explained by a positive or negative evaluation of the Palestinian government and its institutions. In other words, the findings of this and previous polls suggest that there are strong relationships between assessment of the domestic national reconstruction and transition to democracy efforts and support or opposition to the peace process. This observation can be measured in several attitudinal variables, tested by the strength of the relationship between these variables as well as tracked over time.
The Peace Process & Armed Attacks
There has been a significant rise in support for the continuation of the peace process, from 70% three months ago to 78.7% in this survey. This rise brings the level of support to what it was six months ago, before its deterioration last September 1996, after the intense and violent confrontations between Palestinian police and citizens and Israeli military and settlers. (See the analysis of Poll #24 for a fuller discussion of Palestinian public opinion during this period).
The aftermath of these confrontations may be reflected in a significant rise in support for armed attacks against Israeli targets, reaching 39% in this survey, interestingly, at the same time that there is a rise in support for the peace process. In March 1996, support for suicide attacks, which took place in February 1996, was only 21%, compared to 33% in March 1995 (see Poll #22). This rise in support for armed attacks might be attributed to several factors:
(1) the set-back in the peace process, most directly relating to delays in re-deployment of the Israeli military in Hebron and other occupied territories; (2) the September confrontations which were viewed positively by Palestinians; and (3) the fact that this attitude was measured after a recent armed attack against settlers. (As found in September 1995, 19% supported armed attacks against Israeli civilians which is quite low relative to the 70% support for attacks against settlers and 69% for attacks against military targets).
It should be noted that there are significant differences among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in regard to support for armed attacks. These difference mainly relate to respondents' positions toward continuing the peace process with Israel and their affiliation with a political party or faction (see Table2).
Continuation of the Peace Process by Attitude toward Armed Attacks, weighted percentages & counts
Position on Peace Process Support Oppose No Opinion Support Attacks 34.8 (298) 63.7 (115) 23.0 (12) Oppose Attacks 54.9 (469) 27.5 (50) 22.7 (12) No Opinion 10.3 (88) 8.8 (16) 54.3 (28)
As displayed in Table 2, there is a strong relationship between support or opposition for the peace process and attitudes toward armed attacks. It is the case that a majority (54.9%) of those who support the process also oppose attacks. On the other hand, 63.7% of the respondents who oppose negotiations with Israel express support for armed attacks. Such an opinion is also reflected in a respondent's stated political affiliation, as responses from opposition parties and groups are more supportive of armed attacks than supporters of the peace process: for example, Hamas (70.1%), PFLP (64.0%) and Islamic Jihad (59.3%) compared to Fateh (32.1%) and Independent Nationalists (29.4%).
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