PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 13

Poll 12 press release

 

Survey Research Unit

 

Results of Poll # 13

 

AFTER FOUR YEARS OF INTIFADA, AN OVERWHELMING SENSE OF INSECURITY PREVAILS AMONG PALESTINIANS LEADING TO HIGH LEVEL OF SUPPORT FOR BOMBING AND ROCKET ATTACKS ON ONE HAND AND TO HIGH LEVLES OF DEMAND FOR MUTUAL CESSATION OF VIOLENCE AND QUESTIONING OF THE EFFECTIVNESS OF ARMED ATTACKS ON THE OTHER

 

23-26 September 2004

 

These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between September 23 and 26, 2004. The poll deals with the Intifada after four years, the Egyptian initiative and the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, voter registration and voting intentions, Gaza’s chaos and disturbances, reform and the performance of Abu Ala’s government and other PA institutions, and finally, the popularity of Yasir Arafat, Marwan Barghouti, and political factions. Total size of the sample is 1319 adults interviewed face to face in the West Bank (824) and the Gaza Strip (495) in 120 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3% and rejection rate 2%.

 

For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki or Ayoub Mustafa, at Tel 02-296 4933 or email pcpsr@pcpsr.org.

 

Table of Contents:

(1) After Four Years of Intifada

(2) The Egyptian Initiative and the Israeli Withdrawal from the Gaza Strip

(3) Voter Registration and Voting Intentions

(4) Gaza’s Chaos and Disturbances

(5) Reform and the Performance of Abu Ala’s Government and other PA Institutions 

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

(7) Main Results in Numbers

 

 

MAIN RESULTS:

 

This poll was conducted two months after the eruption of domestic disturbances in the Gaza Strip in July. These disturbances were accompanied by similar but more limited acts of lawlessness in the West Bank. The effects of this turmoil have been reflected in the findings of the poll which reflect a greater public worry and concern about the future. The poll was also conducted in the aftermath of the bombing attack against Israelis in Beer Shiva in early September. This attack came in the context of the continued mutual infliction of pain and suffering between Palestinians and Israelis. It is worth noting however, that the Palestinian share of the mutual violence that preceded the Beer Shiva attack has dropped dramatically while that of the Israelis has witnessed greater escalation particularly in the Gaza Strip.  

 

Findings of the poll show high level of Palestinian frustration with national conditions as well as internal political conditions. There is an overwhelming sense of personal and family insecurity and serious concerns about the future in light of the perceived domestic power struggle and the perceived inability of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to control the internal situation. Doubts exist about the seriousness of the PA in holding elections, implementing reform, or dealing with corruption; the public therefore views PA performance in very negative terms. Facing entrenched occupation and very difficult security conditions, the public finds itself in the middle of a contradiction. On the one hand, it gives big support for the bombing attack in Beer Shiva in early September and for rocket attacks against Israel and its settlements and increasingly views the Israeli disengagement plan as victory for armed resistance. On the other hand, it shows an increased and wide spread support for mutual cessation of violence and for the Egyptian Initiative; it also raises questions about the effectiveness of armed attacks in confronting Israeli settlement expansion. Facing the deteriorating domestic situation, the public seems to be clear on what it wants: fundamental political reform and the resignation of the current government of Ahmad Qurai’ (Abu Ala’).

 

(1) After Four Years of Intifada

  • 86% of the Palestinians feel they lack personal security and safety, but the largest percentage (41%) views unemployment and the spread of poverty as the most important problem confronting the Palestinians today
  • 77% support the Beer Shiva bombing attack, but 83% want mutual cessation of violence
  • Only 48% views armed attacks against Israelis as effective in confronting Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank
  • From among several controversial intifada practices, three receive wide spread support: firing of rockets into Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, firing of rockets from Beit Hanoun into Israel, and the “liquidation” of Palestinians accused of being Israeli spies

Despite the growing sense of insecurity after four years of intifada, the Palestinians place economic conditions on top of their hierarchy of priorities. The poll shows that 86% of the Palestinians feel a loss of personal security and safety. This percentage stood at 77% only three months ago. Despite this feeling, the largest percentage (41%) views unemployment and the spread of poverty as the most important problem confronting the Palestinians today followed by the continuation of the occupation and its daily practices (35%), the spread of corruption and lack of reform (15%), and finally, internal chaos (8%). Concern over economic conditions increases in the Gaza Strip compared to the West Bank despite the July turmoil and disturbances in the Strip. The percentage of those placing unemployment and poverty on top of their list in the Gaza Strip reached 44% while those placing internal chaos on top of the list did not exceed 6%. 

The growing perception of threat and insecurity is reflected on attitudes towards armed attacks against Israelis. The poll shows a large percentage supporting bombing attacks inside Israle , including the Beer Shiva attack of early September which received the support of 77%. Yet, despite the widespread support for bombing attacks and despite the belief of 64% that armed confrontations have helped the Palestinians achieve their national rights in ways that negotiations could not, the overwhelming majority (83%) wants mutual cessation of violence and a large percentage (59%) says it will support taking measures to prevent attacks on Israel when an agreement is reached on a mutual cessation of violence. Moreover, despite the widespread support for armed attacks against Israelis, only 48% see them effective in confronting Israeli settlement expansion and 49% support nonviolent steps (such as a ceasefire and a return to negotiations) instead. If a peace agreement is signed by the two sides, three quarters would support reconciliation between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

Support for the Beer Shiva bombing attack increases in the Gaza Strip (87%) compared to the West Bank (71%), in refugee camps and cities (85% and 82% respectively) compared to towns and villages (70%), among women (81%) compared to men (74%), among refugees (82%) compared to non-refugees (74%), among housewives and students (82% and 78% respectively) compared to merchants (70%), and among supporters of Hamas (95%) compared to supporters of Fateh (68%).

From among a list of ten controversial intifada practices, the poll found that four are unacceptable to more than 90% of the public, three are acceptable to more than three quarters, and three are acceptable to a percentage ranging between a quarter to half of the public. In the first group, the unacceptable practices, we find the following: assassinations or attempted assassinations of public figures or journalists, the burning of PA headquarters or the offices of its security services, shootings in demonstrations and funerals, and the kidnapping of foreigners working or residing in Palestinian areas. In the second group, the acceptable practices, we find the following: firing of rockets into Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, firing of rockets from Beit Hanoun into Israel, and the “liquidation” of Palestinians accused of being Israeli spies. Practices that have some support, even if limited are: the kidnapping of officials accused of corruption (50% support), the appearance of masked men in public streets and squares (34% support), and the organization of armed marches in public streets and squares (28%).

Acceptance of the practice of firing rockets from Beit Hanoun into Israel increases in the West Bank (78%) compared to the Gaza Strip (71%), among students (83%) compared to merchants (63%), and among supporters of Hamas (86%) compared to supporters of Fateh (73%). It is interesting to note that while firing rockets from Beit Hanoun receives support from a majority of the Palestinians (75%), 59% of the residents of Beit Hanoun reject this intifada practice.     

 

(2) The Egyptian Initiative and the Israeli Withdrawal from the Gaza Strip

  • Support for the Egyptian initiative increases from 64% last June to 69% in this survey
  • The percentage of those who view Sharon’s Plan as victory for armed struggle increased from 66% in March to 74% in this poll
  • Concern grows over the consequences of the Sharon disengagement plan for internal Palestinian conditions

 

Poll findings show that support for the Egyptian initiative has increased from 64% last June to 69% in this survey while opposition decreased from 34% to 27%. Support for sending Egyptian security trainers and personnel to the Gaza Strip has increased from 53% to 57% during the same period. Support for the unification of the Palestinian security services under the control of the cabinet reaches 79% and support for the appointment of an empowered minister of interior reaches 85%. Moreover, 70% of the public support the Egyptian efforts to arrange for a ceasefire through a dialogue with the different factions.

The poll also shows that the percentage of those who view Sharon’s Plan as victory for armed struggle has increased from 66% in March to 74% in this poll. But if the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is complete, a majority of 54% would oppose the continuation of violence from the Gaza Strip. The percentage of those opposed to the continuation of armed attacks from the Gaza Strip if withdrawal was complete increases in the Gaza Strip (57%) compared to the West Bank (52%), among merchants and housewives (60% and 56% respectively) compared to students (52%), among those with the highest income (68%) compared to those with the lowest income (53%), and among supporters of Fateh (62%) compared to supporters of Hamas (50%).

Findings indicate a growing concern among the public regarding possible consequences of the planned Israeli pull out of the Gaza Strip. A majority of 64% (compared to 59% last June) is worried about the possibility of an internal Palestinian power struggle in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal and only 25% (compared to 30% last June) believe the PA has a high capacity to control the situation after the Israeli withdrawal.

 

(3) Voter Registration and Voting Intentions

  • By September 23-26, 39% have registered to vote and two thirds of the unregistered intend to register
  • Regarding voting intentions in local elections, a drop in the percentage of those intending to vote for the Islamists and for Fateh from 28% and 26% to 22% and 21% respectively
  • Islamists are the strongest in the Gaza Strip with 30% intending to vote for Hamas and 18% for Fateh

 

The poll shows that 39% of the public have already registered to vote and 61% have not. Two thirds of those who have not registered say they intend to register. If this proves correct, a total of 80% would be expected to register if given sufficient time to do so. The current low level of registration may be due to the fact that only 56% believe that the PA is serious about holding national elections in the near future. If national or local elections take place in the near future, 72% say they will participate in them and 25% say they will not.

If local elections were to take place in the near future and if they were fair, 25% (compared to 34% last June) say they believe Fateh candidates would win them and 27% (as in last June) say they believe Hamas and Islamic Jihad candidates would win them. 16% say the winners would be independent candidates and 13% say they would be candidates of families.  As to how the respondents themselves would behave, 22% (compared to 28% last June) say they will vote for Hamas and Islamic Jihad candidates, 21% (compared to 26% last June) for Fateh’s, 16% for independents, and 14% for family candidates. In the Gaza Strip, 30% will vote for Hamas and Islamic Jihad candidates, 18% for Fateh’s, 14% for independents, and 10% for family candidates.

 

 (4) Gaza’s Chaos and Disturbances

  • Percentage of those blaming the Palestinian leadership and the security services for the internal chaos and anarchy increases from 25% last March to 36% in this poll while the percentage of those blaming Israel drops from 63% to 54% during the same period
  • Gaza July disturbances were motivated by internal factors according to 37% and external factors according to 18%
  • 62% view Gaza July disturbances as a power struggle and 30% as a call for reform

 

The poll shows that 54% (compared to 63% last March) hold Israel responsible for the internal chaos and anarchy and 36% (compared to 25% last March) believe it is the responsibility of the PA leadership and security services. It also shows that Gaza’s July disturbances can be traced to internal factors in the eyes of 37% of the public and to external factors in the eyes of 18%. In the Gaza Strip, the belief in the internal causes reaches 43% and in the external causes 13%. 41% believe that the disturbances had internal and external causes at the same time. A majority of 62% explains the disturbances as internal power struggle while only 30% view them as a call for reform.

The percentage of those believing that the Gaza July disturbances was a call for reform increases in the Gaza Strip (34%) compared to the West Bank (28%), among the youngest (34%) compared to the oldest (23%), and among the illiterates (32%) compared to those holding a BA degree (23%).

 

(5) Reform and the Performance of Abu Ala’s Government and other PA Institutions 

  • 93% support internal and external calls for fundamental reform in the PA and the largest percentage blames the PA and its leadership for impeding reform
  • Percentage of those calling on the prime minister to resign increases from 39% last March to 49% in this poll
  • Evaluation of PA performance is negative but the performance of the opposition is viewed positively
  • Percentage of those believing corruption exists in the PA remains very high at 88%
  • Positive evaluation of democracy under the PA reaches 29%

 

The poll found that an overwhelming majority of 93% supports inside and outside calls for fundamental political reforms in the PA. But only 51% of the public believe the PA is serious about implementing the reforms called for by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The largest percentage (42%) believes that the PA (with its government, leadership and ministries according to 30% and President Arafat himself according to 12%) is the one that impedes the process of reform while 39% see Israeli occupation as the party responsible for impeding reform.

Percentage calling for the resignation of Abu Ala’s government increases from 39% last March to 49% in this poll. 39% do not want him to resign. An overwhelming majority believes that he did not succeed in achieving what he promised when he was first appointed. Furthermore, a majority refuses to give positive rating to the performance of all PA institutions. The least positive rating goes to the PLC (30%), the cabinet (33%), security services (35%), judicial authority and courts (39%), and the PA presidency (42%). But the opposition forces receives the highest level of positive evaluation (53%)

88% believe that corruption exists in the institutions of the PA, and among those two thirds believe that this corruption will remain the same or increase in the future. Corruption can be found in PA ministries and offices according to 84% of the public, in the PLC according to 73%, and in the PA presidency according to 64%. Positive evaluation of the status of democracy in the Palestinian areas does not exceed 29%, but two thirds believe that people today can criticize the PA without fear.

 

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

  • In a competition over the presidency, Arafat’s popularity stands at 35%, and in a competition over the vice presidency Marwan Barghouti stands at 22%
  • Fateh’s popularity stands at 29% and Hamas at 22%, but in the Gaza Strip Hamas stands at 30% and Fateh at 24%

In a race for the office of the president involving Yasir Arafat, Marwan Barghouti, and Mahmud Zahhar, Arafat receives the vote of 35%, Zahhar 15%, and Barghouti 13%. One quarter will not vote for any of the three. PSR selected the three names after asking the public to provide us with the names of their preferred candidates in an open question in its June poll. The names of the candidates who received 2% or more were used to form a closed list of presidential candidates in this poll. In the race for the office of a vice president, Marwan Barghouti came first with 22%, followed by Mahmud Zahhar and Haidar Abdul Shafi with 12% each, Saeb Erekat with 6%, Mohammad Dahlan with 4%, Ahmad Quari with 3% and Mahmud Abbas with 2%.

The gap in the popularity of Marwan Barghouti compared to that of Arafat decreases in the cities of Nablus (20% compared to 27% respectively), in Ramallah (13% to 30%), in Jabalia (15% to 28%), in Khanyounis (19% to 36%), in Deir al Balah (17% to 30%), in cities in general (15% to 34%), among holders of BA degree (16% to 23%), among women (14% to 33%), among those with the highest income (21% to 29%), and among supporters of Hamas (14% to 15%).

The popularity of Fateh stands at 29% and Hamas at 22%. Fateh popularity stood at 28% and Hamas at 24% three months ago. The poll found major differences between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ popularity dropped in the West Bank from 21% last June to 17% in this poll while remaining stable at about 30% in the Gaza Strip. Fateh’s popularity on the other hand increased in the West Bank from 28% to 31% and dropped in the Gaza Strip from 27% to 24% during the same period. The total support for all Islamists (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and independent Islamists) dropped in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from 35% to 32%.


 

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