PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 7

Optimistic About Return to Negotiations, Palestinians Support Abu Mazin as a Prime Minister But Are Pessimistic About His Abil

 

Survey Research Unit

Results of Poll # 7

 

Appointment of Prim Minister, Political Reform, Roadmap, War in Iraq, Arafat's Popularity, and Political Affiliation

 

3-7 April 2003

 

These are the results of opinion poll # 7, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) between 3-7 April 2003. The poll deals with the public attitudes toward the appointment of a Palestinian prime minister, political reform, the Quartet's roadmap, war in Iraq, the popularity of Yasir Arafat and political affiliation. The total sample size of this poll is 1315 from Palestinians 18 years and older, interviewed face-to-face, in 120 locations in the West Bank (821) and the Gaza Strip (494). The margin of error is 3%.

To obtain full information, explanation and results, please contact Dr. Khalil Shikaki, PSR – Ramallah,
Tel: +972 2 296 4933, fax 02-296 4934, or e-mail: pcpsr@pcpsr.org

 

Table of contents:

1) The appointment of Abu Mazin as a Prime Minister

2) The Peace Process

3) War in Iraq

4) Domestic Palestinian Issues

5) Main results in numbers

 

MAIN RESULTS:

The results indicate that despite the war in Iraq, the Palestinian public tends to be optimistic about the chances for a return to the peace process. The optimism is derived mainly from the appointment of Abu Mazin as a prime minister, an appointment that receives the support of a clear majority. The optimism may also reflect the fact that a clear majority supports a mutual cessation of violence. This majority may believe that once mutual violence stops, the two sides may find it easier to return to negotiations. At the same time however, the Palestinian public is concerned about the impact of the war in Iraq on the future of the peace process and does not show a great confidence in the ability of the Abu Mazin to control the security situation or even carry out political reforms. Despite the fact that half of the Palestinians sees in the appointment of Abu Mazin an erosion in the status and powers of Yasir Arafat, the popularity rate of both men remains unchanged compared to five months ago. 

 

1) The appointment of Abu Mazin as a Prime Minister

·        A majority of Palestinians (64%) supports the creation of the position of a prime minister while 28% oppose it

·        Support for the appointment of Abu Mazin as a prime minister reaches 61% and opposition 32%

·        50% sees in the appointment of Abu Mazin an erosion in Arafat's status and authority

·        A majority of 86% supports internal and external calls for fundamental political reforms, but only 44% support the call to change the political system to a parliamentary one in which power resides in the hands of a prime minister and the position of the president becomes ceremonial

 

The results show that a majority of Palestinians (64%) supports the creation of the position of a prime minister while 28% oppose that step. But support for Abu Mazin as a prime minister is slightly less at 61% and opposition slightly higher at 32%. Support for Abu Mazin as a prime minister increases in the Gaza Strip (64%) compared to the West Bank (59%), among the old (68%) compared to the young (53%), among the illiterates (67%) compared to holders of BA degree (52%), among the farmers and retired persons (71% and 68% respectively) compared to students (50%), and among supporters of Fateh (71%) compared to supporters of Hamas (56%).

 

While a majority of 70% believes that a government headed by Abu Mazin would be able to renew negotiations with Israel and 50% believe that it would improve economic conditions, only 39% believe that it would be able to control the security situation and enforce a ceasefire on all Palestinian factions and 53% believe that it would not. Moreover, only 43% believe that it would be able to carry out political reform and 44% believe that it would be able to fight corruption. It is worth noting that while the appointment of Abu Mazin has not changed Palestinian expectations regarding the prospect for combined cessation of violence and return to negotiations (standing at 18%, compared to 16% last November), a shift did occur in the expectations regarding the prospect for a combined continuation of armed confrontations and no return to negotiations. In this poll, only 27% (compared to 42% last November) believe that armed confrontations would not stop and the two sides would not return to negotiations.

 

Palestinians are also divided in two halves over the issue of whether Abu Mazin will be able to form a government that could win the confidence of the Palestinians, with 43% believing he would and 43% believing he would not. It is worth remembering that only 40% were willing in November 2002 to give confidence to Arafat's current government. Palestinians are also divided over the issue of whether the appointment of Abu Mazin represents erosion in the authority and status of Yasir Arafat with 50% agreeing with that and 43% disagreeing.

 

Belief that the appointment of Abu Mazin represents an erosion in Arafat's power increases in the West Bank (52%) compared to the Gaza Strip (48%), in cities and villages (51% and 52% respectively) compared to refugee camps (45%), among men (55%) compared to women (46%), among the young (52%) compared to the old (45%), among holders of BA degree (58%) compared to illiterates (37%), among students, merchants, and farmers (62%, 63%, and 71% respectively) compared to professionals, retired persons, and the unemployed (44% each), among middle income people —monthly earning between JD300-600 (55%) compared to low income people (48%), and among supporters of Hamas (54%) compared to supporters of Fateh (47%).

 

While a majority of 86% supports internal and external calls for wide and fundamental political reforms, only 44% support (and 50% oppose) the call for changing the Palestinian political system so that power would reside in the hands of the prime minister while the position of the president would become ceremonial. Support for this change in the political system stood at 47% last November and opposition at 49%. Support for changing the political system to make the office of the president ceremonial increases in the West Bank (46%) compared to the Gaza Strip (41%), in cities (47%) compared to refugee camps (38%), among men (48%) compared to women (41%), among the old (53%) compared to the young (35%), among non-refugees (48%) compared to refugees (39%), among retired persons, farmers, professionals, craftsmen, and laborers (68%, 65%, 56%, 50% and 51% respectively) compared to students, employees, and housewives (33%, 39%, and 40% respectively), among those working in the private sector (50%) compared to those working in the public sector (41%), among high income people (56%) compared to low income people (44%), and among national independents and the unaffiliated (58% and 47% respectively) compared to those who support Hamas and Fateh (39% and 41% respectively).

 

2) The Peace Process:

·        The roadmap receives the support of 55% and the opposition of 39%

·        45% believe, and 46% do not believe, the US and other Quartet members will put great pressure on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to accept the read map

·        Support for American pressure on the Palestinian Authority to accept the roadmap does not exceed 17% while 79% oppose such pressure

·        48% oppose the deployment of international forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip if it means pressuring the Palestinians and the Israelis to accept and implement the roadmap; support stands at 38%; additional 9% would support the deployment if it was European only, and less than 1% support a deployment of American forces

·        A majority of 71% supports mutual cessation of violence

 

Palestinian attitude toward the Quartet's roadmap has become slightly more positive with 55% supporting it and 39% opposing it. Last November, 54% supported and 42% opposed it. Support for the roadmap is reinforced with a strong support for a ceasefire. A majority of 71% (compared to 76% last November) supports a mutual cessation of violence while 27% (compared to 22% last November) oppose it. Under conditions of mutual ceasefire, 50% of all the public would support taking measures against those who would continue to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians while 45% would oppose doing so. Last November, support for such measures stood at 56% and opposition at 40%.  Still, three quarters acknowledge that failure to take such measures would impede the revival of the peace process. On the other hand, 79% express concern that taking such measures may lead to civil war.

 

Support for taking measures against those who continue to attack Israeli civilians after a mutual cessation of violence increases among men (53%) compared to women (47%), among the old (54%) compared to the young (47%), among the illiterates (57%) compared to holders of BA degree (46%), among laborers, professionals, and craftsmen (59%, 56%, and 56% respectively) compared to students and employees (45% each), among those working in the private sector (57%) compared to those working in the public sector (46%), and among supporters of Fateh (64%) compared to supporters of Hamas (40%).

In the absence of a mutual cessation of violence, a majority of 57% (compared to 53% last November) continues to support armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel and 40% oppose it. Support for attacks on soldiers and settlers remains very high (over 90%) as in the previous poll. As in November, two thirds continue to believe that armed confrontations have so far helped achieve Palestinian rights in ways that negotiations could not.

 

Palestinians are divided over whether the US and other members of the Quartet would put heavy pressure on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to accept the roadmap with 45% believing that they would and 46% that they would not. A clear majority of 79% would oppose such American and international pressure if it was put on the Palestinian Authority while only 17% would support it. Moreover, only 38% would support the deployment of international forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in order to force the Palestinians and the Israelis to accept and implement the roadmap. An additional 9% would support such deployment only if the forces were European. Forty-eight percent would oppose any deployment of international forces, and less than one percent would support the deployment if the forces were made up of Americans only.

 

A majority of 65% (compared to 73% last November) supports reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis after a peace agreement is reached and a Palestinians state is established and recognized by the state of Israel. In this context, 82% would support open borders between the two states, 65% would support building joint economic institutions and ventures, 26% would support building joint political institutions, and 30% would support adopting Palestinian laws that would prohibit incitement against Israel. However, only 7% would support changing the Palestinian curriculum so that it no longer call for the return of all of Palestine to Palestinians

 

3) War in Iraq

  • 99% of the Palestinians oppose the war against Iraq, with 58% believing that its aim is to control the Iraqi oil
  • 46% believe the war in Iraq will make it possible for Israel to carry out mass expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while 44% believe that it will not
  • A majority of 61% believes the war in Iraq will make it more difficult for Palestinians and Israelis to return to the peace process and a majority of 78% believes the war will strengthen Palestinian motivation to carry out armed attacks against Israelis

 

The results show that almost all Palestinians oppose the war on Iraq; with 58% of them believing that the primary motive of the US is to seize Iraqi oil, 32% believing the motive to be to help Israel, and only 2% believing it to be to disarm Iraq from weapons of mass destruction. While 78% of the respondents believe that the war in Iraq would strengthen Palestinian desire to carry out attacks on Israelis and 61% believe that it would take Israelis and Palestinians further away from the peace process, only 46% believe (and 44% do not believe) that Israel would be able to exploit the opportunity to carry out a mass expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

 

The belief that Israel will be able to exploit the war to carry out mass expulsion of Palestinians increases among residents of villages and towns (48%) compared to refugee camps (40%), among the old (50%) compared to the young (43%), among the illiterates (51%) compared to holders of BA degree (31%), among farmers, retired persons, and craftsmen (59% and 50% respectively) compared to professionals, laborers and students (33%, 40%, and 42% respectively), among those with low income (47%) compared to those with high income (22%), and among supporters of Fateh and Hamas (50% and 47% respectively) compared to the unaffiliated (40%).

 

Most Palestinians (61%) believe that Iraq of Saddam Hussein would win the war in Iraq while only 12% believe that the winner will be the US and its allies. Eighteen percent see all sides as losers. The results show that socio-economic factors (such as income and education), rather than political affiliation, determine beliefs regarding the outcome of the war. Belief that Iraq's Saddam would win increases among women (71%) compared to men (51%), among illiterates (73%) compared to holders of BA degree (44%), among housewives and farmers (72% and 65% respectively) compared to retired persons, professionals and employees (32%, 39%, and 47% respectively), and among low income persons (65%) compared to high income persons (33%).  On the other hand, the results show that political affiliation plays no role in shaping beliefs regarding this matter.

 

4) Domestic Palestinian Issues

·        81% believe there is corruption in the institutions of the Palestinian Authority

·        Arafat's popularity stands at 35%, as in our survey of last November, followed by Ahmad Yasin (15%), and Haidar Abdul Shafi (10%)

·        For a vice president, Marwan Barghouti receives the highest rating with 20% (compared to 21% last November)

·        Fateh receives the support of 26%, followed by Hamas with 17%

 

The poll shows that Arafat's popularity, at 35%, remains unchanged since last November. Marwan Barghouti is the second most popular Palestinian leader with 20% support. Despite his appointment as a prime minister, Abu Mazin's popularity remains unchanged at 3%. Fateh, at 26%, is still the most popular faction followed by Hamas at 17%. Fateh's support stood at 27% last November. Total support for Islamists (including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and independent Islamists) stands at 29% compared to 25% last November. The combined strength of all Palestinian opposition factions, Islamist and nationalist, stands at 32% while 41% remain undecided. 

 

A majority of 81% believes that there is corruption in the Palestinian Authority and only 30% among those believe that corruption will decline in the future. Last November, 84% believed corruption existed in the PA. Palestinians are divided over the performance of the finance minister, Salam Fayyad, with 35% satisfied, 36% unsatisfied, and 29% unsure.

 

Fourteen percent, compared to 20% last November, say that conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip lead them to seek permanent emigration. The desire to emigrate increases among men (19%) compared to women (9%), among the young 23%) compared to the old (5%), among the holders of BA degree (20%) compared to illiterates (3%), among professionals, students, and laborers (33%, 26%, and 22% respectively) compared to retired persons and housewives (6% and 8% respectively).

 

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