PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 1

Public Opinion Poll # 1

Camp David Summit, Chances for Reconciliation and Lasting Peace, Violence and Confrontations, Hierarchies of Priorities, and Domestic Politics

27-29 July 2000

These are the results of opinion poll # 1, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy & Survey Research , between 27-29 July 2000. The poll deals with The poll deals with Camp David summit, chances for reconciliation and lasting peace, violence and confrontations, hierarchies of priorities, and Palestinian domestic politics. The total sample size of this poll is 1259 from Palestinians 18 years and older, of which 786 in the West Bank and 473 in the Gaza Strip. The margin of error is + 3% and the non-response rate is 3%.

Table of Contents:



The results show that the Palestinian public is not willing to give Arafat much room for maneuver in his negotiations with Barak. In fact, while the majority (68%) believes that Arafat's overall position at the summit was "just right," most Palestinians tend to view Arafat's issue-specific positions that he has reportedly been willing to accept at the summit, as "too much of a compromise."

 For example, the suggestion that Arafat may have been willing to accept a Jerusalem deal that would have allowed Israel to annex the settlements of Ma'aleh Adumim, Giv'at Zeev, and Gush Etzion as well as the Wailing Wall and the Jewish Quarter in return for full Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab neighborhoods and holy places in East Jerusalem, was seen as "too much of a compromise" by a majority of 57%. Only 36% believed it to be "just right" or "not enough of a compromise."

A majority of 55% found "too much of a compromise" in the reported acceptance by the Palestinian side of a territorial exchange in which Israel would annex settlement blocs and the Palestinians would receive territory form Israel and a corridor linking the West Bank with Gaza. Only 37% viewed this position as "just right" or "not enough of a compromise."

Similarly, a majority of 68% found "too much of a compromise" in the reported acceptance of security arrangements that would leave the Palestinian state with no air force or heavy weapon systems and would give Israel an early warning station and a military presence in the Jordan Valley during war. Only 25% found this position to be "just right" or "not enough of a compromise."

A state, recognized by Israel, in 96% of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and a territorial exchange involving the remaining 4%, where most settlers live, with unspecified Israeli territory, was seen as "too much of a compromise" by 51% of the Palestinians. Forty-three percent saw this position as "just right" or "not enough of a compromise."

Respondents were asked to speculate about the future. The overall results indicate that the majority of Palestinians do not expect the worst, but they remain, nonetheless, uncertain about the future. Only 21% believe that confrontations and intifada will erupt in the West Bank and Gaza and that the two sides will not return to the negotiations. Similarity, when asked to speculate about the nature of a future possible agreement, only 23% expressed the belief that no agreement is feasible and that this is the end of the road for the peace process. When asked to speculate about relations between Palestinians and Israelis five to ten years from now, only 31% predicted conflict and violence.

The percentages of those who were clearly optimistic about the future were higher. For example, 44% expected talks to resume soon with no eruption of violence. About 75% expect to see, in the long run, an agreement that would be a compromise between the Camp David positions of the two sides or one more favorable to the Palestinians or the Israelis. More than 41% expect Palestinian-Israeli relations to remain as is or to be characterized by more peace and cooperation in the next five to ten years.

Respondents were asked to express support or opposition, and to speculate about the chances, for reconciliation between the two peoples in the aftermath of a successful conclusion of negotiations that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state recognized by Israel. The results show an overwhelming support for reconciliation but little confidence in its feasibility, at least in the near future. They also show that the Palestinian overwhelming support for reconciliation is based on cold calculations of interests and needs rather than friendship, forgiveness, or tolerance. Moreover, a majority of Palestinians does not believe that a lasting peace is possible between Israelis and Palestinians; a larger majority thinks that most Israelis think similarly.

In the context of an agreement, a majority of 75% would support or strongly support the process of reconciliation, while only 23% would oppose or strongly oppose it. Yet, only 23% believe that reconciliation is possible in the next 10 years, and 36% believe that it "is not possiever." Whenasked to speculate about the views of the majority of Israelis regarding the prospects for reconciliation, 44% expressed the belief that they think that reconciliation "is not possible ever," and 18% thought that they believe it to be possible within the next 10 year.

An overwhelming majority (85%) of the Palestinians support or strongly support open borders to free movement of people and goods in the context of a peace agreement. Similarly, a majority of 71% supports the creation of joint economic institutions and ventures.

However, even in the context of a peace agreement, a majority of Palestinians opposes, or strongly opposes, other forms of cooperation and reconciliation. For example, 62% oppose or strongly oppose the "creation of joint political institutions, such as a parliament, designed eventually to lead to a confederate system;" 56% oppose, or strongly oppose, "taking legal measures against incitement against Israel;" 87% oppose or strongly oppose adopting "school curriculum in the Palestinian state that would recognize Israel and teach school children not to demand return of all Palestine to the Palestinians;" 57% would not invite an Israeli colleague to home for a visit; and 57% would not accept an invitation to the home of an Israeli colleague.

A majority of 60% believes that a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is impossible, or definitely impossible, while only 35% believe it to be possible, or definitely possible. A majority of Palestinians believes that the Israeli public also thinks likewise. A majority of 66% believes that the majority of the Israelis does not, or definitely does not, believe that lasting peace is possible between Israelis and Palestinians. Only 24% of the Palestinians believe that the majority of the Israelis does, or definitely does, believe in the possibility of a lasting peace.

The results show a majority of Palestinians supporting armed attacks against Israeli targets. A majority also indicated that it would support violent confrontations if no agreement were reached by 13 September. In such a case, most would support a unilateral declaration of statehood even if Israel objected and despite the fact that most expected a harsh Israeli response.

Support for violence among Palestinians stood last March at 44% compared to 52% in this poll. This is the highest level of support for violence recorded among Palestinians since 1994. The perceived Hizbullah victory in South Lebanon and the failed summit at Camp David may have contributed to this outcome. Indeed, 63% of all respondents agreed that the Palestinians should emulate Hizbullah methods.

Respondents were asked whether they would support violent confrontations against Israel if no agreement were reached by 13 September. A majority of 60% said that it supports, or strongly supports, such confrontations. A similar majority (57%) believed that such confrontations would help achieve Palestinian rights in a way that the negotiations could not. When asked if Israel would achieve greater gains from such confrontations, only (35%) responded in the affirmative.

When asked whether they would support a unilateral declaration of statehood on 13 September if no agreement were reached by then, most (56%) said that they would. Only 37% said that they would support waiting until an agreement is reached with Israel. In speculating about possible Israeli response to such a unilateral declaration, one quarter said that it would annex all the areas under its control today. Another quarter said that instead, it would blockade the Palestinian areas and act on the international arena to reverse the unilateral step. Sixteen percent said that it would invade the Palestinian areas and occupy back all the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while 12% said that Israel would impose other punishment measures. Only 20% said that Israel would recognize the new state or try to negotiate with it.

Respondents were given a list of national interests and were asked to rank them according to importance. The results make it clear that for the majority of Palestinians, the most important national interest is the "establishment of an independent and secure Palestinian state," followed by "unity of the Palestinian people." The results indicate that Palestinians are clearly willing to sacrifice democracy for the sake of interests like statehood, security, and unity. When asked to speculate about the way the majority of Israelis organizes its hierarchy of priorities, Palestinian respondents thought that the most important national interest for the majority of Israelis is a "secure and independent state," followed by the "Jewish character of the state." Even though most Palestinians do no think that the majority of the Israelis place a very high value on democracy, they, nonetheless regard highly Israeli democracy.

A majority of 68% placed the goal of an independent and secure state as the first and second priority, followed by unity of the Palestinian people (first and second according to 53%). The third priority for the Palestinians is economic prosperity (placed first and second by 33%), the forth is peace (by 23%), and the last is democracy (by 13%). The relative disregard for democracy by the respondents is confirmed in another question in which they were asked whether they would be willing to sacrifice democracy and the rule of law in order to assure the attainment of other national interests such as security. A majority of 62% responded in the affirmative, with only 29% refusing to do so.

Most Palestinians seem to think that the majority of Israelis think likewise. To most Palestinians, the first Israeli priority is the security and independence of the state (placed first and second by 76%), followed by the Jewish character of the state (placed first and second by 56%). Economic prosperity, peace, and democracy came third, fourth and fifth (placed first and second by 17%, 16%, and 14% respectively). Despite the fact that democracy came last in the Palestinian speculation about the Israeli ordering of priorities, most Palestinians (57%) view democracy in Israel as good or very good. However, when asked to speculate about the prospects for Israeli democracy in the next ten years, only 42% said that it would be good or very good. Last February, a majority of 68% viewed Israeli democracy as good or very good. It is possible that concern about an eminent threat to the peace process posed by the Israeli right wing and religious parties may have led many Palestinians torefrain from the Israeli system of government.

The results show a rise in the popularity of Yasir Arafat from 39% last March to 46% in this poll. Fateh maintained its standing at 36%. Haidar Abdul Shafi came first as vice president with 16% of the vote, followed by Sa'eb Erikat with 9%.

The results show also that belief in the existence of corruption continues to rise reaching 76% in this poll, compared to 71% last March. Positive evaluation of Palestinian democracy remains unchanged at 21%. Similarly, belief that people can not criticize the Palestinian Authority without fear remains unchanged at 63%.

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