PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 12

Poll 4 English

 

Survey Research Unit

 

Results of Poll # 12

 

IN THE CONTEXT OF THE SHARON DISENGAGEMENT PLAN, WIDE SUPPORT FOR THE EGYPTIAN INITIATIVE AND FOR VARIOUS FORMS OF INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE, BUT ENDING ARMED ATTACKS FROM THE GAZA STRIP IS CONTINGENT ON A FULL ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM IT

 

24-27 June 2004

 

These are the results of poll # 12 conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between June 24 and 27, 2004. The poll deals with withdrawal from Gaza, winning the intifada, armed attacks, reconciliation, local and national elections, reform, democracy, corruption, and the popularity of Yasir Arafat, Marwan Barghouti, and the various political factions. Total size of the sample is 1320 adults (835 in the West Bank and 485 in the Gaza Strip) interviewed face to face in 120 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%.

 

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

 

 

Table of contents:

 

(1) Main Findings.

(2) Withdrawal from Gaza.

(3) Peace Process: Intifada, Victory, Armed attacks, and Reconciliation.

(4) Local and National Elections.

(5) Reform, Democracy, and Corruption.

(6) Popularity of Yasir Arafat, Marwan Barghouti, and Political Factions.

(7) Main Results in Numbers.

 

MAIN FINDINGS

This poll focused on issues related to the Israeli unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip covering issues like the Egyptian initiative, international presence, and continuation of armed attacks from the Gaza Strip.  Poll findings show significant public support for the Egyptian initiative. But support is not uniform with regard to all components of the initiative. Support is not very high for sending Egyptian security officials to the Gaza Strip. The reason for this reserved attitude may have to do with public concerns regarding an Egyptian security presence exactly at a time when the Israeli security presence begins to disappear. It is worth remembering that the Gaza Strip was under an Egyptian military administration prior to the 1967 war. Moreover, it is highly likely that many people think that the Egyptian presence might impose constraints impeding the ability of militant factions from continuing to resort to arms against the departing Israeli forces, especially if the Israeli withdrawal is incomplete.

Findings also show that most Palestinians, almost equally in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, would oppose the continuation of armed attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip if the Israeli withdrawal was full. However, if the withdrawal was partial, similar majorities in Gaza and the West Bank would support continuation of armed attacks against Israeli targets from the Strip.

It is interesting to observe two areas of difference in the attitudes of Gazans compared to West Bankers. The first has to do with perception of victory in the current armed confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians. While a majority of Gazans think Palestinians have won, less than one third of West Bankers think so. Gazans, more than West Bankers, seem to view the Israeli unilateral disengagement as victory for Palestinians. The second area of difference has to do with homes in the settlements. While a majority of West Bankers support keeping homes in evacuated settlements intact, Gazans preferred to see them destroyed. One reason for this could be the concern of Gazans about a possible return of settlers and soldiers to the Strip after the withdrawal, particularly since this withdrawal is unilateral. Perhaps it is this concern about a possible return of the Israeli army that that leads most Palestinians, as poll findings show, to support various forms of international presence in the Gaza Strip, including the deployment of international armed forces.

 

(1) Withdrawal from Gaza

  • Little less than two-thirds of the Palestinians (64%) support the Egyptian initiative and 32% oppose it, but only 53% support the deployment of Egyptian military advisers and security officials in the Gaza Strip
  • High levels of support for various forms of international presence in the context of the Sharon disengagement plan with 60% for the deployment of an armed international or multilateral force in the Gaza Strip that would be responsible for security in the Rafah international border crossing and the Egyptian-Palestinian border
  • Support for the modified Sharon disengagement plan as approved by the Israeli government does not exceed 34% and only one quarter believes the plan will actually be implemented
  • A majority of 59% would oppose armed attacks from the Gaza Strip if the withdrawal from the Strip was complete
  • An almost even split on the future of the homes in the settlements with 49% wanting to keep them intact and 48% wanting them destroyed
  • An overwhelming majority (90%) supports Hamas’ participation in the administration of the Gaza Strip after the Israel withdrawal

Poll findings show that little less than two-thirds of the Palestinians (64%) support the Egyptian initiative and 32% oppose it. But support for its different components varies: 81% for unification of the security services under the control of the cabinet, 87% for the appointment of a strong minister of interior, but only 53% for the deployment of Egyptian military advisers and security officials in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the poll finds high levels of support for various forms of international presence in the context of the Sharon disengagement plan: 60% for the deployment of an armed international or multilateral force in the Gaza Strip that would be responsible for security in the Rafah international border crossing and the Egyptian-Palestinian border; 61% for the deployment of such forces in the settlements in order to take custody of them and maintain control until an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on their future is reached; 64% for an international presence aimed at rebuilding PA security services; 70% for an international presence aimed at rebuilding PA civil institutions and ministries; and 78% for an international presence aimed at rebuilding the Palestinian economy and infrastructure.

Support for the Egyptian initiative increases among illiterates (69%) compared to those holding a BA degree (54%), among the retired and laborers (76% and 72% respectively) compared to students (56%), and among supporters of Fateh (76%) compared to supporters of Hamas (56%).

Sharon’s modified disengagement plan does not receive the same level of support as the original plan. Poll findings indicate that support for the modified Sharon disengagement plan as approved by the Israeli government does not exceed 34% and only one quarter believes the plan will actually be implemented. In March 2004, 73% welcomed the original plan when it was first announced and only 24% believed that Sharon was serious about implementing it.

Findings also show that the key to Israeli security is related to the size of withdrawal from Gaza: full or partial. As long as the withdrawal from Gaza is not complete, a majority of 55% would support continuation of armed attacks from the Gaza Strip after the withdrawal, but a majority of 59% would oppose such attacks if the withdrawal from the Strip was complete.

Opposition to armed attacks from the Gaza Strip after a full Israeli withdrawal increases among the oldest (65%) compared to the youngest (51%) among the retired (71%) compared to the students (50%), among the married (61%) compared to the unmarried (52%), and among supporters of Fateh (69%) compared to supporters of Hamas (49%)

The poll finds an almost even split on the future of the homes in the settlements with 49% wanting to keep them intact and 48% wanting them destroyed. Support for the destruction of the settlements’ homes increases among Gazans reaching 58%. The desire of Gazans to see settlements’ homes destroyed might be due to their fear that the Israeli army and settlers might come back to these settlements, just as the army returned to cities and areas vacated in 1994-96 in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the current intifada.

A slight majority of 50% believes the Bush letter to Sharon on borders and refugees is important in shaping a permanent agreement with the Israelis and 45% believe it is not important.

With regard to domestic matters related to the Gaza withdrawal, the poll shows alarming concerns: 59% are worried about possible Palestinian infighting after the Israeli withdrawal form Gaza, only 30% believe the PA has high capacity to control matters after the withdrawal, and only 31% believe life in Gaza will fully resume in an orderly manner. Nonetheless, 59% believe the PA will be the body that will assume control over the Gaza Strip after the withdrawal and only 26% believe it will fall into the hands of factions and armed groups.

An overwhelming majority (90%) supports Hamas’ participation in the administration of the Gaza Strip after the Israel withdrawal. In terms of the preferred percentage for Hamas’ role in decision making, the median was 50% (and the mean 51%) for those supporting the participation of Hamas. The median for the whole sample was 50% and the mean 45%.

 

(2) Peace Process: Intifada, Victory, Armed attacks, and Reconciliation

  • only 40% believe the Palestinians came out winners so far in the ongoing armed conflict that has started in September 2000 and 37% believe no one won. Belief in Palestinian victory is much higher in Gaza (54%) than in the West Bank (32%)
  • A majority of 59% supports continued suicide bombings inside Israel if an opportunity arises. Despite this, support for mutual cessation of violence remains very high (79%)
  • 77% feel that their safety and that of their families are not assured these days
  • support for reconciliation between the two peoples remains very high (72%) even though 43% believe such reconciliation is not possible ever

 

Findings show that despite the fact that 69% believe that armed attacks have helped achieve national rights that negotiations could not achieve, only 40% believe the Palestinians came out winners so far in the ongoing armed conflict that has started in September 2000 and 37% believe no one won while 16% believe Israel is the winner. On the other hand, 48% believe the majority of the Palestinians think that the Palestinians are the winners, and 51% believe the majority of Israelis think Israel is the winners.

 Belief that the Palestinians have been the winners in the current armed confrontations increases in the Gaza Strip (54%) compared to the West Bank (32%), in refugee camps (56%) compared to towns and villages (32%), among those who pray five times daily in the mosque (50%) compared to those who never pray in the mosque (24%), and among supporters of Hamas (51%) compared to supporters of Fateh (39%).

A majority of 59% supports continued suicide bombings inside Israel if an opportunity arises. Despite this, support for mutual cessation of violence remains very high (79%) and if such cessation is obtained, a majority of 55% would support, and 41% would oppose, taking measures by the PA to prevent further armed attacks on Israeli targets.

Pessimism prevails: two thirds believe the Roadmap has collapsed; only 20% believe the two sides will soon return to negotiations and violence will stop; and 77% feel that their safety and that of their families are not assured these days. Nonetheless, support for reconciliation between the two peoples remains very high (72%) even though 43% believe such reconciliation is not possible ever. 

 

(3) Local and National Elections

  • Opposition to holding local elections in stages is greater than support (49% to 45%) as more people want to hold these elections in all cities, towns and villages simultaneously
  • In local elections: 28% will vote for Hamas and Islamic Jihad candidates, 26% for Fateh’s, 17% for independents, and 9% for family candidates
  • A solid majority of 70% supports the participation of refugee camp residents in the municipal council elections within which these camps are located
  • Almost three quarters support giving women a quota in the general political elections
  • A majority of 88% encourages the participation of Hamas in the general legislative and presidential elections if they take place soon

 

Findings show considerable opposition among the public for the holding of local elections in stages. Opposition to holding local elections in stages is greater than support (49% to 45%) as more people want to hold these elections in all cities, towns and villages simultaneously. If elections do take place now, a majority of 52% believe it will not be fair and only 38% believe it will be fair. In any case, only 44% believe the PA is serious about holding local elections in September 2004.

Findings show that if local elections were held soon and were fair, 34% of the respondents think Fateh candidates would win, 27% think Hamas candidates would win, 18% think independents would win, and only 9% think family candidates would win. As to how the respondents themselves would behave, 28% said they will vote for Hamas and Islamic Jihad candidates, 26% for Fateh’s, 17% for independents, and 9% for family candidates. In the Gaza Strip, 32% will vote for Hamas and Islamic Jihad candidates, 23% for Fateh’s, 18% for independents, and 7% for family candidates. These results indicate that the prevailing perception among the public is that Fateh has more popularity than the Islamists. Reality however is different, as the findings show that the Islamists are in fact supported by more people than Fateh.

Support for Islamist candidates in the local elections increases in the Gaza Strip (32%) compared to the West Bank (26%), in the governorates of Deir al Balah, Qalqilia, Rafah, Gaza City, Hebron, and Ramallah (41%, 39%,33%, 32%, 31%, and 30% respectively ) compared to Jericho, Tulkarm, Bethlehem, Nablus, and Jerusalem (9%, 18%, 21%, 25%, and 27% respectively), in refugee camps (33%) compared to towns and villages (26%), among women (34%) compared to men (23%), among the youngest (35%) compared to the oldest (21%), among housewives and students (34% and 33% respectively) compared to farmers (11%), and among those who pray five times daily in the mosque (39%) compared to those who never pray in the mosque (5%).

A solid majority of 70% supports the participation of refugee camp residents in the municipal council elections within which these camps are located, 23% support holding separate elections for these camps to elect local committees for the camps, and only 5% oppose the participation of refugee camps in the local elections. On the other hand, two thirds oppose the proposed amendments to local election law calling for the election of the head of the local council by the elected members of the council and not directly by the voters.

With regard to the general political elections, almost three quarters support giving women a quota. The median for the preferred percentage of the quota for those supporting such a quota was 30% and the mean 35%.The median for the whole sample was 20% and the mean 25%. Findings also show that a majority of 88% encourages the participation of Hamas in the general legislative and presidential elections if they take place soon.

 

(4) Reform, Democracy, and Corruption

  • An overwhelming majority (92%) supports inside and outside calls for fundamental political reforms in the PA
  • Positive evaluation of the status of democracy in the Palestinian areas does not exceed 25% and 50% believe that people can criticize the PA without fear
  • 87% believe that corruption exists in the institutions of the PA and two thirds believe that officials and others involved in or accused of corruption are often not charged or brought to account

 

Poll findings show tremendous support for reform measures but also great doubts about their implementation. An overwhelming majority (92%) supports inside and outside calls for fundamental political reforms in the PA. But only 40% of the public believe the PA is actually carrying out such reform. With regard to the status of democracy in the Palestinian areas, the poll finds that positive evaluation does not exceed 25%, while only 20% believe that freedom of the press exist in PA areas (37% believe it exists to some extent). Despite this, 50% believe that people can criticize the PA without fear.

Findings also show that 87% believe that corruption exists in the institutions of the PA, and among those more than two thirds believe that this corruption will remain the same or increase in the future. Moreover, two thirds believe that officials and others involved in or accused of corruption are often not charged or brought to account.

Belief that corrupt officials are never charged or brought to account increases in the Gaza Strip (77%) compared to the West Bank (63%), in refugee camps (73%) compared to towns and villages (65%), among men (73%) compared to women (63%), among the refugees (72%) compared to non-refugees (65%), among holders of BA degree (80%) compared to illiterates (44%), among employees and students (78% and 73% respectively) compared to housewives (61%), among those praying five times daily in the mosques (76%) compared to those who never pray in the mosque (57%), and among supporters of Hamas (76%) compared to supporters of Fateh (59%).   

 

 (5) Popularity of Yasir Arafat, Marwan Barghouti, and Political Factions 

  • In an open question regarding the election of the PA president, a majority of 54% votes for Yasir Arafat. No one else received 2% or more of the vote with the exception of Marwan Barghouti and Mahmud Zahhar. But in a closed question Arafat received 49%
  • In another open question, this time regarding the election of a vice president, Ahmad Qurai (Abu Ala’) received 9%, followed by Marwan Barghouti (8%), but in a closed question Barghouti came first with 25%
  • The popularity of Fateh has remained unchanged from last March (28%) but that of Hamas increased from 20% to 24%.
  • Combined Islamist strength (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and independent Islamists) increased from 29% last March to 35%

 

In an open question (without a list of names presented to respondents) regarding the election of the PA president, a majority of 54% votes for Yasir Arafat. No one else received 2% or more of the vote with the exception of Marwan Barghouti and Mahmud Zahhar (2% for each). But in a closed question (with a list of only two names presented to respondents) Arafat received 49% and Haidar Abdul Shafi 10%. Since 1994, the name of former Hamas leader Ahmad Yasin was presented. As of the next poll, Mahmud Zahhar’s name (and that of Marwan Barghouti) will also be in the list along with Arafat. Since he received less than 2% in the open question, Abdul Shafi’s name will not be in the list of candidates for the office of the president.

In another open question, this time regarding the election of a vice president, Ahmad Qurai (Abu Ala’) received 9%, followed by Marwan Barghouti (8%), Saeb Erikat (6%), Mohammad Dahlan, Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazin), and Mahmud Zahhar (3% each), and Haidar Abdul Shafi (2%). But in a closed question (with a list not containing Zahhar or any other Hamas leader, as the names of Rantisi and Yasin were dropped) Barghouti came first with 25%, followed by Erikat (9%), Ahamd Qurai’ and Haidar Abdul Shafi (6%), Hanan Ashrawi (5%), Mohammad Dahlan and Farouq Qaddoumi (4% each), and Mahmud Abbas (3%). It is worth noting that Barghouti received more votes in the Gaza Strip (27%) than in the West Bank (24%), and that Dahlan managed to strengthen his support in Gaza (to 8%) while receiving only 1% in the West Bank. Last March, Barghouti received the support of 16%. The results show that the trial of Barghouti has positively affected his popularity as 67% of the public said the trial has made him more qualified to be a Palestinian leader.

The popularity of Marwan Barghouti increases in the governorates of Dier al Balah, Rafah, Jenin, Bethlehem, Nablus, and Ramallah (44%, 33%, 33%, 32%, 30%, and 29% respectively) compared to the governorates of Tulkarm, Jerusalem, Jericho, Khanyounis, Hebron, and Qalqilia (15%, 17%, 18%, 19%, 21%, and 21% respectively), among the youngest (37%) compared to the oldest (18%), among students (35%) compared to professionals and farmers (8% and 11% respectively), and among supporters of Fateh (30%) compared to those who do not belong to any of the known factions and parties (19%).

The popularity of Fateh has remained unchanged from last March (28%) but that of Hamas increased from 20% to 24% during the same period. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas’ support reached 29% compared to 27% for Fateh.  Combined Islamist strength (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and independent Islamists) increased from 29% last March to 35% (38% in the Gaza Strip) in this poll. This is the highest level of support for the Islamists since 1995. Surprisingly, 39% of the respondents said that they thought that the assassination of Hamas leaders (Yasin and Rantisi) has weakened the movement while only 36% said it has strengthened it.  

 

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