PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 17

Poll 16 full

 28 September 2005

 

 

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll

 

 

On The Eve Of The Israeli Withdrawal From The Gaza Strip, 84% See It As Victory For Armed Resistance And 40% Give Hamas Most Of The Credit For It; But 62% Are Opposed To Continued Attacks Against Israelis From The Gaza Strip, 60% Support Collection Of Arms From Armed Groups In Gaza, Fateh’s Electoral Standing Improved At Hamas’ Expense (47% To 30%), Optimism Prevails Over Pessimism, And 73% Support The Establishment Of A Palestinian State In The Gaza Strip That Would Gradually Extend To The West Bank

 

 

7-9 September 2005

 

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 7-9, 2005. The poll deals with Palestinian conditions on the eve of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the future of the peace process after disengagement, voting intentions and considerations in the upcoming Palestinian elections, and domestic Palestinian conditions. Total size of the sample is 1368 adults interviewed face to face in the West Bank (892) and the Gaza Strip (476) in 120 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%.

 

For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel 02-296 4933 or email pcpsr@pcpsr.org.

 

 

Table of contents:

(1) Main Findings

(2) Prevailing Conditions on the Eve of Israeli Withdrawal from the Gaza Strip

(3) Future of the Peace Process after Disengagement

(4) Voting Intentions and Considerations in the Upcoming Legislative Elections

(5) Domestic Conditions and Political Sympathies

(6) Main findings in numbers

 

Main Findings

 

Focus in this poll has been placed on Palestinian perception of the meaning of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the context of the implementation of the Israeli disengagement plan and public expectations of the day after with focus on the future of the peace process. The poll also focused on the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections in terms of voters’ intentions and behavior.

 

Three main findings emerge:

(1) The Palestinian public views the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as victory for armed resistance to occupation; it gives Hamas most of the credit for this achievement.

(2) In the meanwhile, with the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip underway, public top priorities are shifting: focus is now placed on matters of reconstruction and state building such as economic conditions, corruption, and law and order.

(3) The change in priorities is weakening interest in armed resistance and increases demands for its cessation. Moreover, the change in the hierarchy of priorities in weakening the electoral appeal of Hamas and strengthening that of Fateh in anticipation of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

 

It is evident that the unilateral nature of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip has generated conflicting dynamics: on the one hand, a greater appreciation of the role of violence, and thereby the need to keep the armed pressure on Israel and to protect the arms of the resisting groups; on the other hand, a greater optimism about the future and the critical and urgent need to begin the process of reconstruction and state building, and thereby the need to maintain the existing ceasefire and the consolidation of Fateh’s position.

 

(1) Prevailing Conditions on the Eve of Israeli Withdrawal from the Gaza Strip

  • 84% view Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as victory for armed resistance and 40% give Hamas most of the credit for that achievement
  • But a majority of 62% opposes continued armed resistance from the Gaza Strip and 60% support collection of arms from armed factions in the Strip
  • 77% support the continuation of the current ceasefire and 56% oppose (and 37%) support the suicide attack that took place in Beer Sheva in August
  • Priorities of the public focus on reconstruction and 73% support the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders that would start in the Gaza Strip and gradually extends to the West Bank
  • Optimistic expectations prevails, particularly in the Gaza Strip, but fears remain

Findings show significant increase in the percentage of those who see the Israeli withdrawal as victory for armed resistance from 72% in our last survey in June to 84% in this survey. The largest percentage (40%) gives Hamas most of the credit for this achievement while only 21% give the credit to the PA and 11% to Fateh. Belief that Hamas deserves most of the credit increases among women (44%) compared to men (36%), among holders of the preparatory certificate (47%) compared to holders of university degree (32%), among housewives (45%) compared to employees and farmers (29% each), among those would definitely refuse to buy a lottery ticket (45%) compared to those who would definitely agree to buy one (32%), among those working in the private sector (40%) compared to those working in the public sector (29%), among the married (42%) compared to the unmarried (33%), and among Hamas supporters (69%) compared to supporters of Fateh (24%).

Despite the high public appreciation for armed resistance and for Hamas, findings show a majority opposition to continued armed attacks. 62% oppose (and 35% support) continuation of armed attacks from the Gaza Strip after a full Israeli withdrawal from that area. Opposition to armed attacks from the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal is greater in Gaza than in the West Bank (65% and 60% respectively). Findings also show that that a majority of 77% supports the continuation of the current ceasefire while only 22% oppose its continuation. This attitude is reflected in the opposition of 56% (and support of 37%) to the suicide attack that took place in August 2005 in Beer Sheva. Opposition to armed attacks is also reflected in the majority support (60%) for collection of arms from armed factions in the Gaza Strip; 37% oppose such a step. Percentage of support for the Gaza collection of arms is equal in the Gaza Strip to that of the West Bank but it increases among those definitely wishing to buy lottery tickets (73%) compared to those definitely opposed to buying lottery tickets (46%) and among Fateh’s supporters (74%) compared to Hamas’ supporters (43%).

The high positive evaluation of the role of violence while simultaneously opposing its continuation reflects a shift in public priorities towards a focus on reconstruction where poverty and unemployment comes at the top of the public list of priorities (40%) followed by occupation and corruption (25% each) and internal anarchy (8%). In June 2005, these percentages stood at 34% for poverty and unemployment, 33% for occupation, 24% for corruption, and 8% for internal anarchy.

Similarly, findings show strong support (73%) for the establishment of a Palestinian state (with the 1967 lines as its borders) that would start in the Gaza Strip and gradually extends to the West Bank. The idea of a Gaza-first state receives identical support in the West Bank as in the Gaza Strip. But it finds greater support among those intending to vote for Fateh in the upcoming parliamentary elections (82%) compared to those intending to vote for Hamas (67%). It is important to point out that the question clearly identifies the borders of the state as those of the 1967, and therefore some or all respondents might have assumed that no further negotiations would be required to determine the final borders of the state. In other words, one should not assume that support for this Gaza-first state is automatically equivalent to support for the state with provisional borders referred to in the Road Map.

The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip has created an optimistic atmosphere, particularly in the Gaza Strip. For example, findings show optimistic expectations regarding future improvement in the economic conditions among 64% of the public, progress in the peace process among 57%, links between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 57%, the view that the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is the beginning of the end of the Israeli occupation among 56%, and the view that further withdrawals will take place in the West Bank in the future among 60%. But pessimism remains high, particularly in the West Bank, regarding the possibility of continued Israeli control over the Rafah crossing and thereby the transformation of the Gaza Strip into a big prison (among 57%) and the expectation that the Israeli withdrawal will be followed by internal infighting (among 60%). It is worth noting that the poll was conducted during the period in which Musa Arafat, security advisor to PA president, was assassinated in the Gaza Strip.

 

(2) Future of the Peace Process after Disengagement

  • 69% support going to comprehensive final status negotiations and only 25% support a gradual interim solution
  • Support for the Road Map plan stands at 57% and opposition at 40%
  • If permanent status negotiations start with the Sharon government, only 30% expect that it would lead to an agreement while 68% believe that agreement is not possible
  • But if a compromise is reached with the current Israeli leadership, 53% believe Sharon is strong enough to convince the Israeli people to accept it and 50% believe Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is strong enough to convince the Palestinian people to accept it.
  • 63% support (and 35% oppose) a two-state solution whereby the state of Israel is recognized as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine is recognized as the state for the Palestinian people
  • Level of support for reconciliation between the two peoples after the establishment of a Palestinians state reaches 75% and opposition 24%

 

Findings show strong support (69%) for comprehensive final status negotiations with the aim of reaching a permanent status agreement rather than an interim or gradual solution which receives the support of only 25%. They also show that support for the Road Map remains unchanged at 57% and opposition at 40%. But support for final and comprehensive negotiations does not mean optimism about their outcome with the current Israeli government of Ariel Sharon. Indeed, 68% believe an agreement with Sharon is not possible while only 30% believe that such an agreement is possible. Nonetheless, if a compromise agreement is reached with the current Israeli leadership, 53% of the Palestinians believe that Sharon is strong enough to be able to convince the Israelis to accept it. Moreover, 50% of the Palestinians believe the Palestinian president, Mahmud Abbas, is strong enough to convince the Palestinians to accept it.

A compromise agreement acceptable to 63% of the Palestinians is one based on a mutual recognition of identity whereby a Palestinian state is established next to the state of Israel and all final status issues are resolved. Israel in this case, would be recognized as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. Opposition to this compromise reaches 35%. (In December 2004, identical results regarding this compromise were obtained.) If a two-state solution is reached, 75% of the Palestinians would support reconciliation between the two peoples. Support for facets of reconciliation varies with 87% supporting open borders for labor and goods between the two states, 70% supporting joint economic ventures and institutions, 38% supporting enacting laws prohibiting incitement, 36% supporting joint political institutions aiming at creating a confederation between the two states, and 10% supporting text books that would recognize the state of Israel and does not call for the return of all Palestine to the Palestinians.

 

(3) Voting Intentions and Considerations in the Upcoming Legislative Elections

  • 74% say they will participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections; 47% of the likely voters will vote for Fateh, 30% for Hamas, 11% for other groups, and 11% remain undecided
  • Ability to fight corruption is the first top voting consideration followed by name of list or political party, ability to improve economic conditions, ability to reach a peace agreement with Israel, and ability to protect national unity.
  • Hamas is the most able to fight corruption and Fateh is the most able to improve economic conditions, move the peace process forward, and protect national unity
  • Mahmud Abbas is the preferred candidate for the presidency and Marwan Barghouti for the position of the vice president and the position of prime minister  

 

Findings show that 74% of the Palestinians will participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections in January 2006. Voting intentions among the likely participants indicate an increase of Fateh’s support from 44% last June to 47% in this poll and a drop in Hamas’ support from 33% to 30% during the same period. 11% will vote for other factions and groups and 11% remain undecided.   From among eight vital considerations in voting for election lists, # (1) is the ability to fight corruption receiving 24%, # (2) the name or affiliation of the list with 19%, # (3) ability to improve economic conditions with 15%, # (4) ability to reach a peace agreement with Israel with 14%, # (5) ability to maintain national unity with 10%, # (6) ability to enforce law and order with 8%, # (7) ability to protect refugee rights in negotiations with 6%, and finally # (8) ability to insure the continuation of the intifada with 4%.

Hamas is the most able to fight corruption (receiving 46% vs. 37% to Fateh) and to insure the continuation of the intifada (receiving 62% vs. 24% to Fateh). Fateh is perceived as the most able to improve the economy (receiving 46% vs. 31% for Hamas), to push the peace process forward (receiving 64% for Fateh vs. 21% for Hamas), to protect national unity (receiving 46% vs. 37% for Hamas), to enforce law and order (receiving 54% vs. 31% for Hamas) and to protect refugee rights (receiving 44% for Fateh and 37% for Hamas).

In a closed question, in a contest for the position of PA president between Mahmud Abbas (Fateh), Mahmud Zahhar (Hamas), and Mustafa Barghouti (others), Abbas comes first with 44% followed by Zahhar with 21% and Barghouti with 19%. In a closed question, in a contest over the position of vice president, Marwan Barghouti receives the greatest level of support with 24% followed by Mahmud Zahhar with 14%, Ismail Haniyyah with 13%, Mohammad Dahlan and Mustafa Barghouti with 9% each, Farouq Qaddoumi with 8%, and finally Ahmad Qurai and Saeb Erikat with 6% each. In a closed question, in a contest over the position of prime minister, Marwan Barghouti comes first with 30% followed by Zahhar with 22%, Mustafa Barghouti with 17%, and Qurai and Dahlan with 8% each. Public satisfaction with the performance of PA president Mahmud Abbas increases from 60% last June to 64% in this poll.

 

(4) Domestic Conditions and Political Sympathies

  • 87% believe that corruption exists in PA institutions; among those, 61% believe that corruption will increase or remain the same in the future
  • Only 36% say that their security and safety and that of their family is insured these days and 64% say it is not
  • Positive evaluation of Palestinian democracy stands at 32%
  • The popularity of Fateh stands at 39% and Hamas at 27% (compared to 41% and 30% respectively in June 2005)

 

Findings show that an overwhelming majority (87%) believes that corruption exists in PA institutions. A majority among those (61%) believes that this corruption will increase or remain the same in the future. Only 33% believe that corruption will decrease in the future. The percentage of those who believe corruption does not exist in the PA does not exceed 9%.

Findings also show that about two thirds (64%) believe that these days they and their families lack security and safety while only 36% say they now have security and safety. A clear difference exists between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with more Gazans feeling safe and secure than West Bankers (55% to 25% respectively).

As for the status of democracy in the Palestinian areas, 32% (compared to 37% last June) give it a positive evaluation.

Popularity of Fateh stands today at 39% compared to 41% last June. Fateh’s popularity in the West Bank is almost identical to its popularity in the Gaza Strip (38%  and 40% respectively). Hamas’ popularity dropped from 30% to 27% during the same period. Hamas’ popularity is higher in the Gaza Strip (32%) compared to the West Bank (25%).

 

 

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

 

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