PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 2

Public Opinion Poll # 2

The Mitchell Report, Cease Fire, and Return to Negotiations; Intifada and Armed Confrontations; Chances for Reconciliation; and, Internal Palestinian Conditions

5-9 July 2001

These are the results of opinion poll # 2, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy & Survey Research , between 5-9 July 2001. The poll deals with the Mitchell Report, cease fire, and return to negotiations; intifada and armed confrontations; chances for reconciliation; and, internal Palestinian conditions. The total sample size of this poll is 1318 from Palestinians 18 years and older, of which 812 in the West Bank and 506 in the Gaza Strip. The margin of error is + 3% and the non-response rate is 3%.

Table of Contents:

MAIN RESULTS:

  1. The Mitchell Report, Cease Fire, and Return to Negotiations
    • 50% support the PA acceptance of the Mitchell Report and the cease fire, and 46% reject it

    • 63% support immediate return to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, and 35% oppose it

    • 58% support continuing negotiations from where they stopped in Taba in January 2001, and 33% oppose it

    • 46% believe that the peace process is dead

    • 81% believe that a Palestinian-Israeli agreement would have beneficial economic impact

Despite much pessimism regarding the prospects of a peace process, leading to a large increase in support for armed confrontations (as discussed in the next section), the majority of the Palestinians are supportive of the cease fire efforts and of a return to negotiations. The results of the survey show that 50% support the PA decision to accept the Mitchell Report and the cease fire, and that 63% support an immediate return to the negotiating table. They also show that 58% support continuing negotiations from the point reached at Taba in January 2001, and that 81% believe that a peace agreement reached between the two sides would have beneficial economic gains. Despite the support for negotiations however, the public is highly pessimistic about the chances of success, with 46% believing that the peace process is dead and that there is no chance of reaching an agreement in the coming years. In our July 2000 poll, in the aftermath of the Camp David Summit, only 23% believed that the peace process was dead.

Support for the Mitchell report and the cease fire increases in the West Bank (54%) compared to the Gaza Strip (43%), in villages and towns (55%) compared to refugee camps (39%), among women (53%) compared to men (46%), among the illiterates (60%) compared to holders of BA degree (46%), among farmers (61%) compared to students (41%), and among Fateh supporters (65%) compared to the supporters of Hamas (38%).

  1. Intifada and Armed Confrontations
    • If the cease fire agreement collapses, 60% would support return to armed confrontations

    • 92% support armed confrontations against the Israeli army in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

    • 58% support armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel and 39% oppose them

    • 70% believe that armed confrontations have so far achieved Palestinian rights in ways that negotiations could not, and a similar percentage believe that a return to armed attacks would achieve the same objective

    • 75% expect the continuation of armed confrontations

    • 93% believe that the intifada had a negative impact on the Palestinian economy

    • 91% believe that Arab support for the intifada has been inadequate

    • 26% believe that the Palestinian media provide a fair and accurate account of the confrontations, 30% believe that the media is mobilized by the PA and/or sometimes call for confrontations, but 33% believe that the media is mobilized by supporters of the peace process and/or call for end to the intifada

Poll results indicate that despite the current support for the cease fire, the majority (60%) would, in case of its total collapse, support a return to armed confrontations. Yet, the public distinguishes between armed attacks against Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza, which it overwhelmingly supports (92%) and armed attacks on Israeli civilians inside Israel, supported by 58% and opposed by 39%. This widespread support for armed attacks are apparently the result of three factors: most Palestinians, as seen below, place the goal of "ending occupation" at the top of Palestinian priorities, most believe that negotiations will not succeed, and most believe that armed attacks have so far achieved, and will continue to achieve in the case of a return to it, Palestinian national rights in ways that negotiations could not achieve.

The results show that 70% believe that armed confrontations have achieved national goals that negotiations could not achieve, while 71% believe that such confrontations would achieve the same objectives in the future. Consistent with the pessimistic mood in the street, 75% of the public believe that armed confrontations will continue despite the cease fire.

Despite the widespread support for armed confrontations, 93% believe that the intifada had a harmful impact on the Palestinian national economy, and 80% believe that it had harmed its own economic well-being. Moreover, 91% believe that the Arab support for the intifada has been inadequate. Yet, this does not lead the public to reduce its support for armed confrontations. The reason may lie in the fact that the improvement of economic conditions comes third in the hierarchy of Palestinian priorities after "ending occupation" and "fighting corruption and instituting the rule of law."

The results also show that the public does not believe that the Palestinian media is mobilized by the PA or that it calls for armed confrontations. On this issue the public is divided into three groups: 30% believe that the media is indeed playing such a role, but one third believe that it does the opposite in that it is mobilized by supporters of the peace process and that it calls for ending the intifada and the confrontations, while a quarter believes that it provides an accurate description of the confrontations.

Support for return to armed attacks increases in the Gaza Strip (67%) compared to the West Bank (56%), in villages and towns (56%) compared to refugee camps (69%), among men (65%) compared to women (56%), and among supporters of Hamas (73%) compared to supporters of Fateh (63%) and the non-affiliated (49%). The results also show that the most religious tend to be more supportive of a return to armed confrontations. For example, support increases among those who read Quran every day (66%) compared to those who never read it (52%). Similarly, it increases among those who observe most of religious rules and traditions (66%) and decreases among those who do not (40%).

  1. Chances for Reconciliation and Lasting Peace in a Scenario of Successful Negotiations:
    • 73% support reconciliation between the two peoples after reaching a peace agreement

    • 84% support open borders between Palestine and Israel

    • 60% support joint Palestinian-Israeli economic institutions and ventures

    • 25% support joint political institutions leading to an Israeli-Palestinian confederation

    • 31% support taking legal measures against incitement in the state of Palestine

    • 7% support adopting school curriculum that recognises Israel and teaches children not to demand retrun of all Palestine to the Palestinians

    • 27% would invite an Israeli colleague to visit at home and 28% would visit an Israeli colleague at his home

    • 49% believe that reconciliation is possible, and 38% believe that it is not possible

    • 50% believe that a majority of Israelis believes that reconciliation is not possible ever and that 35% believe it to be impossible

    • 26% believe that a lasting peace is possible, and 24% believe that a majority of Israebelieves that it is possible

    • 59% expects conflict and violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the next 5 to 10 years

Given the widespread pessimism and the wide support for armed confrontations indicated by the survey results, the levels of support for reconciliation come as a surprise. This is the second time that these recquestions have been asked. The first time occurred in July 2000 after the end of the Camp David Summit. What has been surprising is the fact that no significant changes have occurred on most of the reconciliation indicators. For example, 73% (compared to 75% in the July 2000 survey) continue to support reconciliation between the two peoples once a peace agreement is reached. A large majority of 84% supports open borders and 60% support joint economic institutions and ventures. Moreover, 31% (compared to 38% in the July 2000 survey) support taking legal measures against incitement in the state of Palestine, 27% (compared to 41% in the July) would invite an Israeli colleague to visit at home, and 49% (compared to 48% in July) believe that reconciliation is possible. Twenty six percent (compared to 35% in July) believe that a lasting peace is possible.

Despite the long term flexibility, pessimism dominates the current thinking with 59% of the public expecting violence and confrontations in the future relations between the two sides during the next five to ten years. One year ago, only 31% expected such future.

Support for reconciliation increases among residents of cities (77%) compared to refugee camps (65%), among the old (86%) compared with the young (64%), among the illiterates (85%) compared to holders of BA degree (67%), among the farmers (82%) compared to students (52%), among those with the least income (73%) compared to those with the highest income (65%), and among supporters of Fateh (85%) compared to supporters of Hamas (65%) and the non-affiliated (70%).

  1. Priorities, Corruption, Democracy, Arafat's Popularity, and Political Affiliation
    • "Ending occupation" is the Palestinian first priority, followed by fighting corruption and instituting the rule of law, providing jobs and improving living conditions, and safeguarding religious values and traditions

    • 83% believe that corruption exists in PA institutions, and 57% believe that it will increase or remain the same in the future

    • Positive evaluation of Palestinian democracy stands at 21%, but 39% believe that it will be better when the state is established

    • 51% believe that people can not criticize the PA without fear

    • Arafat's popularity drops to 33%, compared to 46% in July 2000 in the aftermath of the Camp David Summit

    • Support for Fateh drops to 29%, compared to 37% in July 2000, but support for the Islamists increases from 17% to 27% during the same period

    • 46% prefer to have an Islamic state, like in Iran, after the establishment of a Palestinian state

"Ending occupation" is the first Palestinian priority according to 50% of the public, followed by "fighting corruption and the institution of the rule of law," "providing jobs and improving living conditions," and finally, the "safeguarding of religious values and traditions." This hierarchy of priorities may have led the majority of the public to support armed confrontations, while at the same time reducing the impact of economic factors. The public does clearly see the negative and harmful impact of the intifada on the Palestinian economy, but the consequences of this knowledge are mitigated by the much stronger desire to end occupation.

The results indicate a persistent negative public perception of governance in Palestine. This may explain the decline in support for both Arafat and Fateh. Eighty three percent (compared to 76% in July 2000) believe that corruption exists in PA institutions, and 57% believe that it will increase or remain the same in the future. Positive evaluation of Palestinian democracy remains low, at 21%, while the percentage of those who believe that people can not criticize the PA without fear decreased from 63% in July 2000 to 51% in this poll. The intifada and the subsequent weakening of the PA may have contributed to this decrease.

The popularity of Arafat dropped within a year from 46% in July 2000 to 33% now, while Fateh's support dropped from 37% to 29% during the same period. Support for the Islamists increased from 17% to 27%.

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