PSR - Survey Research Unit: Poll No. 7 - Press Release
Optimistic About Return to Negotiations, Palestinians Support Abu Mazin as a Prime Minister But Are Pessimistic About His Abil

14 April 2003

 

PRESS RELEASE

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll

 

Optimistic About Return to Negotiations, Palestinians Support Abu Mazin as a Prime Minister But Are Pessimistic About His Ability to Reform the Palestinian Political System or Control the Security Situation Especially Given Public Perception of the Impact of the War in Iraq

 

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah has conducted a public opinion poll in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the period between 3-7 April 2003. A representative sample of 1315 adults was interviewed face to face in 120 locations, with 3% margin of error.

 

For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki at Tel 02-2964933 or email kshikaki@pcpsr.org.

 

Summary of Results

 

1. With Abu Mazin, Optimism About Negotiations and Pessimism About Political Reform and Violence

        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%.

        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 Arafatís 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.

        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%.

 

2) The Peace Process:

        Palestinian attitude toward the Quartetís roadmap has become slightly more positive with 55% supporting it and 39% opposing it. Last November, 54% supported and 42% opposed it.

        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.

        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.

 

3) War in Iraq

        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.

        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.

 

4) Domestic Palestinian Issues

        Arafatís 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 Mazinís popularity remains unchanged at 3%.

        Fateh, at 26%, is still the most popular faction followed by Hamas at 17%. Fatehís 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.

 

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This PSR survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Ramallah.

 

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