PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 22

A majority of 61% agrees and 36% disagree with the proposal that after reaching a permanent agreement to all issues of the con

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. (22)

With increased public dissatisfaction with the performance of the presIdent and the hamas government and WITH A widening of the gap between the popularity of fateh and Hamas in favor of the former, A majority supports the holding of early presidential and parliamentary elections, and is in favor of the Arab (Saudi) Initiative, and prefers A comprehensive settlement over an interim political track

 

14-16 December 2006

 

Table of contents:

 

·         Main Findings

·         Armed Confrontations and Ceasefire

·         Negotiations and Permanent Status

·         Governmental Performance, Early Elections, and Balance of Power

·         Table: Support for a Permanent Settlement Framework along the Lines of the Geneva Initiative, the Clinton Parameters, and the Taba Negotiations (2003-2006)

·         Main Findings in numbers

 

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 during December 14-16, 2006. The poll deals with several issues including armed confrontations, ceasefire, negotiations, permanent peace, Arab Initiative, performance of the government and the president, early elections, and the domestic balance of power. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults, 830 in the West Bank and 440 in the Gaza Strip, interviewed face to face in 127 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.

 

Main Findings:

Poll findings show a considerable increase in the level of public dissatisfaction with the performance of the Hamas government. More importantly however, the findings show a greater increase in the level of dissatisfaction with the performance of PA president Mahmud Abbas. These developments might explain the poll finding of a high level of support for early parliamentary and presidential elections. The poll shows that if such elections were to take place today, vote for Fateh would be almost identical to the vote it received about one year ago in the January 2006 elections. But the vote for Hamas would be lower than it received in those elections. But the poll shows a large percentage of undecided (10%) voters which indicates that Hamas might be able to regain the votes it has lost. This conclusion is supported by the finding that shows a tie in the race for the presidency between Fateh’s candidate Mahmud Abbas and Hamas’ Isma’il Haniyeh. The considerable support the prime minister receives indicates that the dissatisfaction with the Hamas government does not necessarily mean blaming it for the current conditions. Moreover, the stability in the support for Fateh indicates that those who are dissatisfied with Hamas have not yet shifted their loyalty to Fateh, perhaps because they are also dissatisfied with the nationalist movement.

Findings show relative stability in public attitude regarding the peace process and armed confrontations despite the continued decline in confidence in the role played until now by armed confrontations in achieving national rights and despite the great level of support for a ceasefire. A large percentage of Palestinians believe that armed action can play a positive role in ending occupation despite the overwhelming support for the Gaza ceasefire agreement and for extending it to the West Bank. 

Findings show an overwhelming preference among Fateh and Hamas voters for conducting negotiations for permanent peace and end of conflict while only a small minority prefers a track for an interim or partial settlement. But the public is divided over the substance of a permanent settlement with one half supporting and one half opposing a settlement along the lines of the Geneva Initiative and the Clinton Parameters. Support for the Arab or Saudi Initiative and for a settlement based on a two-state solution in which the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Israel recognizes Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people is greater than support for one along the lines of the Geneva Initiative.  

Despite public preference for a permanent deal track, a majority of 58% would support an agreement that would create a Palestinian state in the whole Gaza Strip and about 80% to 90% of the West Bank to be followed by negotiations over permanent issues such as final borders, Jerusalem, and refugees. 

(1) Armed Confrontations and Ceasefire

  • 85% support and 14% oppose the current Gaza Ceasefire agreement and identical percentages (85% and 14%) support and oppose extending it to the West Bank.
  • The public is divided in its evaluation of the outcome of the last round of armed confrontations but the largest percentage (46%) believes that the two sides or none of them came out a winner.
  • Similarly, the public is divided in identifying who benefits more from the ceasefire, Israel or the Palestinians; but the largest percentage (36%) believes the two sides or none of them benefit from it.
  • The public is also divided over who benefits domestically from the ceasefire, Fateh or Hamas; but the largest percentage (58%) believes that both or none of them benefit from it.
  • The public is divided into two halves in the evaluation of the role of rocket launching from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns with 48% believing it serves and 48% believing it hurts Palestinian interests.
  • Despite the fact that 57% of the public believe that a role does exist for violence in ending Israeli occupation, only 49% believe that armed confrontations have so far helped achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not.

 

Findings show that the overwhelming majority of respondents (85%) supports the ceasefire agreement currently observed in the Gaza Strip while only 14% oppose it. Similarly, 85% support and 14% oppose extending the agreement to cover the West Bank as well. The widespread support for the ceasefire might reflect a decrease in the positive evaluation of the role of violence in achieving national rights. Findings show that the public is split into two equal halves on this matter with 49% believing that armed confrontations have so far helped achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not. This percentage stood at 54% six months ago and at 68% one year ago. 

Belief that armed confrontations serve Palestinian interests increases among men (56%) compared to women (44%), among students (61%) compared to housewives (43%), among those who would definitely refuse to buy a lottery ticket (59%) compared to those who would definitely agree to buy a lottery ticket (37%), among supporters of Hamas (62%) compared to supporters of Fateh (37%), and among those who define themselves as opponents of the peace process (74%) compared to those who define themselves as supporters of the peace process (43%).

Findings show that the public does not view the outcome of the armed confrontations that preceded the ceasefire as a Palestinian victory with only 24% seeing it that way and a similar percentage (27%) seeing it as an Israeli victory. The largest percentage (29%) believes that no one came out a winner and 18% believe that both sides came out winners. When evaluating the previous period of the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns, the public becomes divided into two equal halves with 48% believing that it served national interests and an identical percentage believing it hurts the national interests. 

When determining who the beneficiaries from the current ceasefire are, one third believes the Palestinians benefit more and 29% believe the Israelis benefit more. One quarter believes that the two sides benefit and 11% believe neither side benefits. With regard to domestic actors, 21% believe Mahmud Abbas and Fateh benefit more from the ceasefire while 15% believe that Isma’il Haniyeh and Hamas benefit more. 34% believe both sides benefit and 24% believe that neither side benefits.

With regard to expectations in the aftermath of the ceasefire, only 19% believe the two sides will return to negotiations and violence will stop soon while 38% believe that negotiations will be resumed but some violence will continue. 37% believe armed confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations. It is worth mentioning that the percentage of those who believed that armed confrontations will not stop and negotiations will not be resumed soon stood at 26% three months ago. The increased pessimism about the future might explain the finding regarding the future of the peace process with 57% believing that there is a positive role for violence in ending occupation (21% believe the peace process has failed in ending occupation and should be stopped and Palestinians should instead resort to violence while 36% believe that the peace process should not be stopped but at the same time violence too should not be stopped). By contrast, only 38% believe that armed attacks have no positive role to play in ending occupation (27% believe that the peace process has not failed and should be given more time and in the meanwhile violence should be stopped while 11% believe that armed attacks are responsible for the stagnation in the peace process and if stopped peace making would be more successful.

Belief that the peace process has failed and should be replaced with armed attacks increases among men (25%) compared to women (16%), among holders of BA degree (20%) compared to illiterates (12%), among those who definitely would not buy a lottery ticket (29%) compared to those who would definitely buy one (15%), among supporters of Hamas (32%) compared to supporters of Fateh (10%), and among those who define themselves as opponents of the peace process (50%) compared to those who define themselves as supporters of the peace process (15%).

 

(2) Negotiations and Permanent Status

  • 62% believe that the government led by Hamas should conduct peace negotiations with Israel and 34% believe it should not.
  • 58% support and 40% oppose mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people in the context of a permanent settlement and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
  • 48% support and 49% oppose a package of permanent settlement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters, Taba negotiations, and the Geneva Initiative. But support for the various elements of the package ranges between 28% and 63%.
  • 49% support and 45% oppose the plan known as the Road Map.
  • 81% prefer a permanent status track of negotiations that would lead to permanent peace and end of conflict while only 16% prefer a track that would lead to an interim settlement that would postpone the resolution of some issues such as refugees.
  • But a majority of 58% would support and 37% would oppose an interim agreement that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the whole Gaza Strip and about 80% to 90% of the West Bank to be followed by negotiations over permanent issues such as final borders, Jerusalem, and refugees.
  • 59% support the Arab or Saudi Initiative and 38% oppose it.

 

Findings show that the majority of the respondents (62%) supports and 34% oppose peace negotiations between a Hamas-led government and Israel. A majority of 58% supports and 40% oppose a permanent settlement that would resolve all issues of the conflict in which Palestinians would recognize Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Israelis would recognize Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people.  A similar percentage (59%) supports and 38% oppose the Arab (or Saudi) Initiative which calls for Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab land including Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights, the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the solution of the refugee problem based on UN resolution 194 which allows refugees to return to Israel and their compensation in return for recognition of Israel by all Arab countries and recognition of Israel’s right to live within secure borders and the signing of a peace agreement and the establishment of normal relations with Israel.

But the public is divided into two equal halves with regard to a permanent settlement along the lines of the Geneva Initiative, the Clinton Parameters, and the Taba negotiations with 48% supporting such a settlement and 49% opposing it. Six months ago, support for such a settlement stood at 44% and opposition at 53%. But as the table below shows, the highest level of support for this package stood at 54% in December 2004. Current support for the item dealing with withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 with equal territorial swap stands at 61% and opposition at 37%. Support for the item dealing with the establishment of a Palestinian state without an army but with international forces deployed for its protection stands at 28% and opposition at 70%.  Support for the item on dividing East Jerusalem stands at 39% and opposition at 59%. Support for a refugee settlement stands at 41% and opposition at 54%. Support for ending the conflict stands at 63% and opposition at 34%. Finally, support for security arrangements stands at 42% and opposition at 55%.  46% of the public believes that a majority of Palestinians supports this package and 39% believe that a majority rejects the package and 15% do not know. Similarly, 43% believe a majority of Israelis supports the package and 39% believe a majority in Israel rejects it.

Support for a Permanent Settlement Framework along the Lines of the Geneva Initiative, the Clinton Parameters, and the Taba Negotiations

(2003-2006)

 

Dec 03

 

Dec 04

 

Dec 05

 

June 06

 

Dec 06

1) Borders and Territorial Exchange

57%

63%

55%

54%

61%

2) Refugees

25%

46%

40%

41%

41%

3) Jerusalem

46%

44%

33%

35%

39%

4) Demilitarized Palestinian State

36%

27%

20%

25%

28%

5) Security Arrangements

23%

53%

43%

40%

42%

6) End of Conflict

42%

69%

64%

58%

62%

Overall Package

39%

54%

46%

44%

48%

 

Support for the package increases slightly in the Gaza Strip (50%) compared to the West Bank (46%), among those who definitely would buy a lottery ticket (63%) compared to those who would definitely not buy a lottery ticket (32%), among supporters of Fateh (64%) compared to supporters of Hamas (34%), and among those who define themselves as supporters of the peace process (58%) compared to those who define themselves as opponents of the peace process (16%).

Findings also show that 49% support the Road Map and 45% oppose it. Last September, support for this plan stood at 52% and opposition at 42%.

Findings show that an overwhelming majority (81%) prefers a track of negotiations that would focus on reaching a permanent status agreement that would end the conflict and create permanent peace while only 16% prefers a track that would focus on reaching an interim agreement that would create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while postponing the settlement of other issues such as refugees. But if an agreement is actually reached on the establishment of a Palestinian state in the whole Gaza Strip and 80% to 90% of the West Bank to be followed by negotiations between the state of Palestine and the state of Israel on the remaining issues such as final borders, refugees, and holy places, a majority of 58% would support it and 37% would oppose it.

The poll found that 39% of the Palestinians view Olmert’s speech in which he stated his willingness to evacuate settlements and withdraw from large areas as contributing to the peace process while 37% view it as not contributing to the peace process and 19% view it as having no effect on the peace process.  By contrast, a majority of 59% view the statement by Isma’il Haniyeh in which he offered Israel a long term Hudna of ten years or more in return for an Israeli withdrawal to the lines of 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian state as contributing to peace, and 22% viewed it as not contributing to peace and 13% viewed it as having no effect on the peace process.  

 

(3) Governmental Performance, Early Elections, and Balance of Power

  • Satisfaction with the performance of the Hamas government drops from 42% three months ago to 33% today. Similarly, satisfaction with the performance of PA president Mahmud Abbas drops from 55% three months ago to 40% in this poll.
  • More than 90% describe current Palestinian conditions as bad or very bad and only 2% describe it as good.
  • 48% agree and 47% disagree that Hamas government should resign, and 61% support and 37% oppose the holding of early parliamentary and presidential elections.
  • A majority of 56% agrees with Fateh and the president that PA president has the right to call for early elections and 38% agree with Hamas that he does not have that right.
  • After one year since the electoral experience early this year, a majority of the Palestinians is still in favor of democracy: 53% say it is appropriate for the Palestinians and 43% say it is inappropriate.
  • If early parliamentary elections were to take place today, Hamas would receive 36% of the vote, Fateh 42%, and all others 12%. 10% remain undecided. Three months ago, Hamas received 38% and Fateh received 41%.
  • If early presidential elections were to take place today and only two were to compete, Mahmud Abbas from Fateh and Isma’il Haniyeh from Hamas, Abbas would receive 46% of the vote and Haniyeh would receive 45%. 9% remain undecided.  But if the race was between Marwan Barghouti from Fateh and Khalid Mish’al from Hamas, Barghouti would receive 57% and Mish’al would receive 36%. 7% remain undecided.

 

Findings show that satisfaction with the performance of the Hamas government has dropped significantly compared to where it was three months ago, from 42% to 33%. Drop in satisfaction covers all aspects of government work: enforcing law and order dropped from 41% to 27%, reforming the PA and fighting corruption dropped from 46% to 35%, reducing the plight of occupation and confronting Israeli settlement policy and the building of the separation barrier from 33% to 26%, and improving economic conditions, such as resolving the salaries problem, from 26% to 23%. It is interesting to note that 39% of those who voted for Hamas in the January 2006 elections say they are dissatisfied with the performance of the Hamas government while 30% of those who say they would vote for Hamas if new elections are held are dissatisfied with the performance of the Hamas government. It is also noticeable that satisfaction with the performance of the government is greater in the Gaza Strip (37%) than in the West Bank (31%).

Dissatisfaction however is not restricted to the performance of the Hamas government. Satisfaction with the performance of PA president Mahmud Abbas has also dropped significantly in three months from 55% to 40%. As the case had been three months ago, more than 90% describe the current Palestinian conditions today as bad or very bad and only 2% describe it as good. Moreover, 87% say they and their families do not feel secure or safe in the PA and 87% say they believe corruption exists in the PA and 69% of those say that corruption will increase or remain the same in the future. It is worth noting that belief that corruption will increase or remain the same dropped significantly to 28% in the first poll, conducted in March 2006, after Hamas’ electoral victory. The huge increase to the current level indicates that the public has reached the conclusion that given the current internal dynamics, Hamas’ control over the parliament and government does not necessarily mean it has the capacity to fight corruption.

For all these reasons, the poll found half of the public (48%) wanting the Hamas government to resign while the other half (47%) remains opposed to that. Moreover, a majority of 61% support and 37% oppose the conduct of early parliamentary and presidential elections. More importantly, 56% of the public agrees with Fateh and Abbas that the PA president has the right to call for early elections while 37% agree with Hamas that he does not have that right. It is interesting to note that despite public frustration with current conditions, Palestinians are still committed to democracy with 53% saying that given the experience of the last year since the elections, democracy is indeed appropriate for Palestine and 43% say it is inappropriate.

If parliamentary elections were to take place today, Hamas would receive 36% of the vote (compared to 38% three months ago), Fateh would receive 42% (compared to 41% three months ago), all other lists combined would receive 12% (compared to 9%) three months ago). 10%, compared to 12% three months ago, are undecided. Support for Hamas compared to Fateh increases in the Gaza Strip (43% vs. 41% for Fateh) and decreases in the West Bank (32% vs. 43% for Fateh). Support for Hamas also increases in refugee camps (41% vs. 40% for Fateh) and decreases in towns and villages (34% vs. 45% for Fateh) and in cities (36% vs. 41% for Fateh). Support for Hamas also increases among women (42% vs. 40% for Fateh) and decreases among men (30% vs. 45% for Fateh). Support for Hamas also increases among those who definitely would not buy a lottery ticket (50% vs. 27% for Fateh) and decreases among those who definitely would buy a lottery ticket (19% vs. 58% for Fateh). Support for Hamas also increases among those between 33 and 42 years of age (44% vs. 33% for Fateh) and decreases among those between 18 and 32 years of age (34% vs. 48% for Fateh), among those between 43 and 52 years of age (35% vs. 42% for Fateh), and among those over 52 years of age (28% vs. 42% for Fateh). Support for Hamas increases significantly among those who define themselves as opponents of the peace process (74% vs. 5% for Fateh) and decreases significantly among those who define themselves as supporters of the peace process (29% vs. 52% for Fateh). Support for Hamas and Fateh is close among those in the private sector (35% for Hamas and 37% for Fateh), but support for Hamas decreases significantly among those in the public sector (24% vs. 55% for Fateh).

If new presidential elections are to take place today with only two candidates participating, Isma’il Haniyeh from Hamas and Mahmud Abbas from Fateh, public vote would split equally among the two with Haniyeh receiving 45% and Abbas 46%. Haniyeh receives 49% of the vote in the Gaza Strip and 43% of the vote in the West Bank; Abbas receives 44% in the Gaza Strip and 47% in the West Bank. But if the competition was between Marwan Barghouti from Fateh and Khalid Mish’al from Hamas, Mish’al would receive 36% and Barghouti 57%. Barghouti receives a majority of the vote in the Gaza Strip (58% vs. 37% for Mish’al) and in the West Bank (56% vs. 35% for Mish’al).    

 

 

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