CPRS Polls - Survey Research Unit
Public Opinion Poll #25
Armed Attacks, PNA Performance, The Palestinian Legislative Council, Corruption
December 1996
Dealing with Palestinian Authority Institutions

On the positive side, a majority of Palestinians (55.9%) say they feel comfortable (to a great or some extent) when dealing with official Palestinian institutions and agencies. Only 16.2% feel the opposite. This percentage increases slightly among Hamas supporters (20%), PFLP (28.6%) and declines to 11.1% among respondents affiliated with Fateh. It should also be pointed out that the majority of all respondents (54.3%) are confident that the Judicial branch of government and the court system have the ability to rectify any injustice imposed by the Palestinian Authority.

In a more general assessment of leaders of the Palestinian Authority, a majority of respondents believe that they are descent and honest. Specifically, more than a majority (60.9%) agree or strongly agree that Judges are honest, as are leaders of the police and security services (58.9%), Ministers (53.1%) and lastly the Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (52.2%). Table 9 shows that confidence rises among women, the less educated and Gazans.

Table 9
Confidence in Ruling-Elite by Selected Demographic Variables, weighted percentages & counts
Strongly Agree & Agree that Leaders are Honest
Judges Security Forces MinistersPLC Members
Region
West Bank
Gaza Strip

57.4 (383)
66.8 (267)

54.3 (368)
66.8 (268)

49.2 (327)
59.6 (239)

48.8 (331)
57.8 (230)
Gender
Men
Women

56.7 (299)
65.1 (351)

50.9 (273)
77.1 (363)

48.2 (255)
57.9 (311)

46.0 (247)
58.3 (314)
Education
Illiterate-Elementary
Preparatory-Secondary
2-Years College
B.A.+

66.7 (172)
62.9 (364)
53.9 (51)
45.9 (55)

69.4 (182)
62.5 (366)
45.8 (44)
31.0 (38)

63.3 (153)
56.0 (324)
45.2 (43)
24.3 (29)

59.7 (175)
54.6 (319)
42.8 (42)
31.9 (38)

* The No Opinion category is excluded from Table 9, but percentages are based on the total number of responses.

Interestingly, there is a strong relationship between respondents' belief that there is corruption in the Palestinian Authority and confidence in the leaders of the Judiciary, Legislative Council, police & security and Ministers. Unsurprisingly, respondents who think that there is corruption tend to also think that these leaders are not honest. Table 10 displays this relationship.

Table 10
Corruption in the Palestinian Authority by Confidence in Leaders, weighted percentages & counts*
Leaders Are Honest
Strongly Agree AgreeAgree/Disagree DisagreeStrongly Disagree
Judges
Corruption
No Corruption

40.2 (58)
39.7 (57)

48.2 (244)
28.9 (146)

52.9 (135)
13.8 (35)

77.1 (88)
11.9 (14)

75.5 (33)
13.9 (6)
PLC
Corruption
No Corruption

40.7 (41)
39.0 (39)

40.8 (188)
33.5 (154)

55.7 (175)
16.3 (51)

83.3 (126)
8.2 (12)

77.4 (37)
5.7 (3)
Ministers
Corruption
No Corruption

31.2 (27)
43.1 (37)

42.9 (206)
32.0 (153)

56.8 (166)
16.1 (47)

78.7 (120)
9.6 (15)

83.5 (45)
9.1 (5)
Security
Corruption
No Corruption

38.1 (51)
37.8 (50)

41.5 (208)
33.4 (168)

59.1 (140)
13.3 (32)

80.9 (119)
7.1 (10)

85.7 (49)
3.5 (2)

* The No Opinion category is excluded from Table 10, but percentages are based on the total number of responses.

Overall, there is a strong linear correlation between opinions on corruption and honesty of the leaders. Specifically, respondents who believe that there is corruption in the PA do not think that their leadership is honest. Note, however, that respondents who seem to be most critical of Ministers and leaders of the Security Forces, as 83.5% and 85.7%, respectively, strongly disagree that they are honest and also hold the opinion that the PA is corrupt. Palestinians also appear to be not as critical of Judges and PLC Members in this respect, as a relatively less percentage of respondents believe there is corruption and strongly disagree that they are honest. With this said, it should also be mentioned that of all these leaders, Judges receive the highest level of public confidence in terms of being the most honest regardless if they think that the PA is corrupt.

The Status of Democracy in Palestine

Criticism of the Palestinian Authority seems to be linked to larger critic of the transition to democracy in Palestine. Although 42.9% of all respondents assessed the status of democracy in Palestine as positive (33.7% as fair and 22.8% negatively), this is low compared to their evaluations of democracy in Israel, the USA and France, but higher than for Jordan and Egypt (see Chart 2).

Chart 2
Status of Democracy in Palestine, Israel, USA, France, Jordan and Egypt, weighted percentages

Criticism of the status of democracy in Palestine under the Palestinian Authority is stronger among certain demographic groups in this survey. Table 11 shows that men tend to be much more critical than women as are the less educated respondents.

Table 11
Evaluation of the Status of Democracy in Palestine by Selected Demographic Variable, weighted percentages and counts*
Status of Democracy
Positive FairNegative
Gender
Men
Women

35.0 (185)
50.7 (274)

37.2 (197)
30.3 (163)

27.4 (145)
18.2 (99)
Education
Illiterate-Elementary
Preparatory-Secondary
2-Years College
B.A.+

45.6 (118)
46.4 (268)
35.4 (34)
29.2 (35)

35.3 (92)
32.4 (187)
33.2 (31)
34.2 (42)

18.6 (48)
20.9 (121)
29.8 (28)
35.1 (43)
Political Affiliation
Fetah
Hamas
None

40.2 (246)
31.0 (32)
38.2 (104)

32.9 (161)
35.9 (37)
37.6 (103)

16.0 (79)
32.5 (34)
24.0 (66)

* The No Opinion category is excluded from Table 11, but percentages are based on the total number of responses.

Dissatisfaction with the Palestinian Authority extends to other pertinent issues for the transition to democracy in Palestine. A sizable percentage (52.7%) of all respondents think that people, today, cannot criticize the Authority without fear. This opinion is also reflected in the low percentage (27.7%) of respondents who think that the press is free in Palestine. Moreover, only 35.3% expressed their belief that Palestine is heading toward democratic rule, while only 14.7% think the opposite (i.e., their government is heading toward dictatorship). As with the evaluation of the status of democracy in Palestine, certain demographgroups are more critical of the PA: specifically, men, West Bankers, opposition parties and groups as well as more educated Palestinians.

Although only around 15% of all respondents think that Palestine is heading toward a dictatorship, most respondents (38.7%) believe that their government is developing with both democratic and dictatorial tendencies. This view is strongly related to opinions toward the status of democracy in Palestine, including the freedom of expression and the ability to criticize the PA without fear (see Table12).

Table 12
Rule Tendency by Opinions on the Status of Democracy in Palestine, Freedom of the Press in Palestine, weighted percentages & counts*
Rule Tendency
Democracy Combination Dictatorship
Evaluation of Democracy
Positive
Fair
Negative

63.7 (240)
26.2 (99)
10.1 (38)

36.5 (151)
41.0 (170)
22.5 (93)

16.6 (26)
22.2 (35)
61.3 (97)
Freedom of the Press
Yes
Somewhat
No

37.7 (145)
31.9 (123)
27.3 (105)

25.7 (108)
38.0 (159)
34.7 (146)

11.4 (18)
24.6 (39)
62.5 (100)
Criticism of PA
Without Fear
With Fear

51.9 (200)
38.2 (147)

30.6 (128)
59.7 (250)

24.2 (39)
71.6 (114)

* The No Opinion category is excluded from Table 12, but percentages are based on the total number of responses.

As can be expected there is a consistency of responses in regard to opinions on the direction of the Palestinian government. Respondents who believe that Palestine is becoming a democracy with respect for human rights are also more likely to believe that their freedom of expression is protected. On the other hand, those who think that Palestine is heading toward dictatorial rule, strongly believe that they cannot criticize the PA without fear and that the press is not free. Palestinians who think that the government is developing with both tendencies, give a 'fair' evaluation of the status of democracy in Palestine, think that press is 'somewhat' free, but a solid majority believe that they cannot criticize their government without fear.

The opinion that speech is restricted, however, hardly hinders the respondents from voicing their criticism of the government for corruption in its institutions and the practice of al-wasta. In other words, as shown in Table 13, people who believe that Palestine is becoming a dictatorship criticize their government for corruption.

Table 13
Rule Tendency by Opinion on Corruption in the PA and the Use of Al-Wasta, weighted percentages & counts*
Rule Tendency
Democracy Combination Dictatorship
Corruption in PA
Yes
No

40.1 (155)
36.5 (141)

57.5 (24)
18.4 (77)

81.0 (129)
9.5 (15)
Al-Wasta
Always Used
Often Used
Never Used

44.3 (171)
33.5 (130)
11.5 (44)

65.0 (273)
22.9 (96)
5.9 (25)

72.6 (116)
20.0 (32)
2.6 (4)

* The No Opinion category is excluded from Table 13, but percentages are based on the total number of responses.

Although a sizable percentage of people think Palestine is becoming a democracy, they also believe that there is corruption in the government, generally and in the form of al-wasta. These respondents differ, however, than those who think that Palestine is heading toward dictatorship by believing that corruption will decrease in the future. People who think that their government is becoming a dictatorship, are less optimistic about the future. They strongly believe that the level of corruption in the PA will increase or remain at the same level in the future (see Table 14).

Table 14

Rule Tendency by Attitude toward the Future of Corruption, weighted percentages & counts*
Rule Tendency
Democracy Combination Dictatorship
Corruption in the Future
Increase/Remain the Same
Decrease

23.3 (42)
62.0 (112)

43.8 (117)
43.2 (114)

63.9 (88)
21.0 (29)

* The No Opinion category is excluded from Table 14, but percentages are based on the total number of responses.

Attitudes toward the status of democracy in Palestine-including the freedom of press and expression-are related to positions on peace process, but it is so with opinions on armed attacks. Table 15 shows that opponents of continuing the negotiations with Israel as well as supporters of Armed attacks against Israelis are dissatisfied with their government in terms of allowing freedom of speech in the press, criticism of the PA without fear and the overall status of democracy in Palestine.

Table 15
Attitudes toward the Peace Process and Armed Attacks by Status of Democracy in Palestine, Criticism of the PA and Freedom of the Press, weighted percentages and counts*
Peace Process
Armed Attacks
Support OpposeSupport Oppose
Evaluation of Democracy
Positive
Fair
Negative

49.2 (412)
34.3 (287)
16.5 (138)

18.6 (33)
29.3 (52)
52.1 (92)

39.1 (162)
30.3 (126)
30.6 (127)

47.6 (248)
34.2 (178)
18.2 (95)
Criticism of PA
Without Fear
With Fear

40.8 (348)
49.3 (412)

24.1 (44)
69.9 (126)

39.0 (165)
54.0 (229)

37.6 (199)
53.0 (280)
Freedom of Press
Yes
Somewhat
No

30.9 (264)
34.2 (292)
31.8 (272)

12.5 (23)
26.2 (47)
60.3 (109)

27.4 (117)
29.8 (127)
40.7 (173)

28.0 (148)
34.5 (183)
34.5 (183)

* The No Opinion category is excluded from Table 15, but percentages are based on the total number of responses.

The finding of the previous polls suggest that the position of Palestinians from the West Bank & Gaza Strip toward the continuation of the peace process is strongly related to their attitudes toward domestic issues. In other words, supporter opponents on the peace process differ greatly in other areas of concern.

Namely, supporters of the peace process are more likely than opponent, to be optimistic about their governments ability to reduce corruption in its institutional agencies. Supporters also give higher evaluations of their government-officials & institutions, as are women, less educated & Gazan respondents.

On the other hand, opponents of the peace process with Israel tend to also criticize their government for issues pertaining to the transition to democratic rule in Palestine, especially for the ability to voice their opinions without fear.

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