PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 24

PSR Survey Research Unit - Poll No. 24

 

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. (24)

 

Anger and lack of confidence prevails in the Palestinian Street:

While Popularity of Hamas Decreases, and Status of Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmud Abbas Declines, and While the Public Loses Confidence in its Leadership, in Most of the Security Services, and in the Various Armed ďBrigades,Ē Three Quarters Demand Early Presidential and Parliamentary Elections and 63% support the American Security Plan

 

14-20 June 2007

 

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 June 14-20, 2007. This poll deals with several issues including early elections, infighting, future of the PA, confidence in leaders and institutions, and the peace process. 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.

 

Table of Contents:

        Main Findings

        Early Elections and Domestic Balance of Power

        Infighting, Performance of Public Institutions, and the Future of the PA

        Other Domestic Issues

        Peace Process††

        Main findings in numbers

††

 

Main Findings:

 

Findings show that the recent infighting has angered most Palestinians and led to a loss of confidence in the leadership and most of the security services. They also show that while there is a clear support for the American security plan and for holding early parliamentary and presidential elections, the public is split over other alternatives such as the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority and replacing it with an international trusteeship or the establishment of a confederation with Jordan.

 

Findings show that more than 40% support alternatives to the current status quo such as the dissolution of the PA and its replacement with an international trusteeship or return to Israeli occupation. A similar percentage supports a confederation with Jordan now or later after the establishment of a Palestinian state. Findings also show that Hamas has lost some of its popularity in light of the events in the Gaza Strip but that Fatehís popularity has not benefited from those same events. Pessimism characterizes public assessment of domestic developments with a majority describing infighting and lawlessness as the most immediate and dangerous threat to Palestinians while Israeli occupation came third in a list of threats. A relatively large percentage expressed desire to immigrate to foreign countries. Similarly, a relatively large percentage said it was not proud of being Palestinian.

 

Despite the continued support for the peace process and the two-state solution, the poll shows a great level of pessimism regarding the chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the next five years. Pessimism also prevails regarding the chances of reaching a compromise agreement with the Israeli Olmert government. Nonetheless, a large percentage expressed support for the American security plan after being told of its main components.

 

(1) Early Elections and Domestic Balance of Power

  • Overwhelming majority (75%) supports holding early parliamentary and presidential elections and 22% oppose it.
  • 56% support the declaration of the emergency situation and the formation of an emergency government and 38% oppose that. Support for the declaration and the emergency government increases to 59% in the West Bank and decreases to 49% in the Gaza Strip.
  • If new parliamentary elections are held today, Fateh would receive 43% of the popular vote and Hamas would receive 33%.
  • If new presidential elections are held today, Mahmud Abbas would receive 49% and Ismail Haniyeh would receive 42%. If the competition is between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 59% and the latter would receive 35%.

 

Findings show that three quarters of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip support the holding of early parliamentary and presidential elections while 22% oppose it. The high level of support indicates public conviction that the split caused by the Gaza events might deepen with time leading to a permanent separation between the two geographically separated entities of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Support for early elections might reflect public desire not only to reject violence as the means to solve domestic problems but also to reunify the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Attitudes of Gazans do not differ from those of West Bankers regarding early elections. In fact, support for early elections is slightly higher in the Gaza Strip (77%) compared to the West Bank (73%). Support for early elections increases among illiterates (83%) and those with elementary education (79%) compared to those with BA degree (72%), among those who define themselves as supporters of the peace process (82%) compared to those who define themselves as opposed to the peace process (47%), and among supporters of Fateh (91%) compared to supporters of Hamas (60%).

 

Findings show that a majority of 56% support the declaration of emergency and the formation of an emergency government while 38% oppose it. The relatively low level of support for the emergency declaration compared to the support for early elections indicates that a significant part of the public is concerned about the consequences of the formation of an emergency government on the infighting and the split between Gaza and the West Bank. Concern about the emergency situation increases in the Gaza Strip where only 49% support it compared to 59% in the West Bank. Support for the declaration of emergency and for the emergency government increases also among those who define themselves as supporters of the peace process (62%) compared to those who define themselves as opposed to the peace process (30%), and among supporters of Fateh (83%) compared to supporters of Hamas (30%).

If new elections are held today, support for Fateh would remain as it was three months ago (43%) while Hamasís popularity drops to 33%. Hamasís popularity stood at 37% in our last survey in March 2007. Hamasís popularity drops particularly in the West Bank (27%) compared to its popularity three months ago when it stood at 35%. In the Gaza Strip, findings show Hamasís popularity unchanged compared to three months ago (40%). Fatehís popularity increases slightly in the West Bank (from 41% to 43%) and drops slightly in the Gaza Strip (from 46% to 42%). These findings show that the Gaza events did not have a great impact on the domestic balance of power between Fateh and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, support for Hamas drops while support for Fateh increases slightly. Yet, most of those who defected from Hamas have not shifted loyalty to Fateh and have opted instead to become ďundecided.Ē Findings show that the undecided category has increased from 8% in our March survey to 13% in this poll. The implication is that the decrease in Hamasís popularity could be temporary and that Fateh remains unable to benefit from Hamasís mistakes. Findings also show that the other parties and factions have also failed to present themselves as an alternative to the two large factions, Fateh and Hamas. The combined strength of all other parties remains unchanged at 12% compared to their strength three months ago.

 

Findings regarding the presidential race show a decrease in the popularity of Ismail Haniyeh. In a competition between Haniyeh and Mahmud Abbas, the former receives 42% and the latter 49%. But 40% say they will not participate in such elections if the only two candidates are Haniyeh and Abbas. If the competition is between Haniyeh and Marwan Barghouti, the non participation rate drops to 31% and Barghouti wins by 59% compared to 35% for Haniyeh. Barghouti wins against Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip (55% compared to 41%) and the West Bank (62% compared to 30%).

 

(2) Infighting, Performance of Public Institutions, and the Future of the PA

  • 59% believe that Fateh and Hamas are equally responsible for the infighting, but 15% believe Fateh is more responsible than Hamas and 14% believe Hamas is more responsible than Fateh for the infighting.
  • 71% believe that neither Fateh nor Hamas came out a winner from the infighting. But 18% believe that Hamas came out a winner and only 4% believe Fateh came out a winner.
  • Satisfaction with the performance of Mahmud Abbas during the infighting does not exceed 13% and dissatisfaction 84%. Satisfaction with the performance of Ismail Haniyeh reaches 22% and dissatisfaction 74%. Satisfaction with the overall performance of Abbas stands at 36% and dissatisfaction at 60%.
  • Satisfaction with the performance of the National Unity Government during the three months since formation stands at 17% and dissatisfaction at 81%.
  • Confidence in various security services and armed groups ranges between the low for Preventive Security, Intelligence, Executive Force, and Presidential Guard (33% to 37%) and medium for the National Forces (48%), al Qassam Brigades (45%), al Aqsa Brigades (50%), and Police (58%).
  • 41% support the dissolution of the PA and 49% oppose that. The percentage of those who support the dissolution of the PA is divided into those who would like to replace with an international trusteeship (26%) and those who want to replace it with a return to Israeli occupation (16%).
  • Support for a confederation with Jordan reaches 42% and opposition 52%.

 

Findings indicate that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians does not blame foreign parties for the infighting. Instead, responsibility is placed equally on Fateh and Hamas. Only 9% believe Fateh and Hamas are not responsible for the infighting and 59% blame both sides equally while 15% believe Fateh is more responsible and 14% believe Hamas is more responsible. Moreover, a majority of 71% believe that Fateh and Hamas have not come out winners from the infighting. But in light of the reality of Hamas control in Gaza, 18% believe it has emerged a winner while only 4% believe Fateh has been the winner.

 

Findings also show that the public has lost confidence in its leadership and in the majority of the security services and armed resistance groups. Satisfaction with the performance of president Abbas during the infighting does not exceed 13% and dissatisfaction stands at 84%. Similarly, satisfaction with the performance of Prime Minister Haniyeh does not exceed 22% and dissatisfaction stands at 74%. Dissatisfaction with the overall performance of Mahmud Abbas drops from 53% three months ago to 36% in this poll. Dissatisfaction with Abbasís performance stands today at 60%.Findings also show a great disappointment with the performance of the national unity government during the last three months with 81% saying that they are dissatisfied with its performance and only 17% expressing satisfaction.

 

Confidence in the security services and armed groups ranges between little and medium. Confidence in the preventive security stands at 33%, General Intelligence 34%, Executive Force 35%, Presidential Guard 37%, al Qassam Brigades 45%, the National Security forces 48%, al Aqsa Brigades 50%, and Police 58%.

 

The worsening conditions and the lack of trust in the PA leadership and institutions force people to seek alternatives. Findings show that 41% support the dissolution of the PA and 49% oppose that. The percentage of those who support PA dissolution is the sum of those who want to replace it with an international trusteeship (26%) and those who want to replace it with a return to full Israeli occupation (16%). Similarly, findings show that 42% support and 52% oppose the establishment of a confederation with Jordan. The percentage of those who support the confederation is the sum of those who want such a confederation now--before the creation of a Palestinian state-- (25%) and those who wish to have a confederation with Jordan but only after a Palestinian state is established (17%). Support for a confederation-now is equal in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Support for this step increases among residents of cities (29%) compared to refugee camps (20%), among illiterates (28%) compared to holders of BA degree (22%), among those over 52 years of age (35%) compared to those between 18-22 years of age (19%), and among supporters of Fateh (28%) compared to supporters of Hamas (17%).

 

(3) Other Domestic Issues

  • 90% describe current Palestinian conditions as bad or very bad.
  • The most serious and immediate threat to Palestinians today is infighting and lawlessness in the eyes of 56% followed by poverty and unemployment , Israeli occupation and settlements, and finally international sanctions
  • 73% do not feel secure in their homes and 26% say they feel secure. Feeling of security increases in the Gaza Strip to 41% and decreases in the West Bank to 18%.
  • 85% believe that corruption exists in PA institutions and 59% of those believe that it will increase or remain the same in the future.
  • 28% say they want to immigrate to foreign countries and 23% say they are not proud of being Palestinian.
  • 41% believe that democracy is a successful system suitable to Palestine and 54% say it is a failed system unsuitable for Palestine.
  • Overwhelming majority (82%) describes acts such as kidnappings of foreigners and bombing of internet cafes and foreign schools as criminal deserving condemnation and only 3% describe them as nationalist deserving support.

 

Overwhelming majority of Palestinians (90%) describes current condition as bad or very bad while only 6% describe it as good or very good. Findings show that the most immediate and dangerous threat confronting Palestinians today is infighting and lawlessness as perceived by 56% of the public followed by poverty and unemployment as perceived by 21%, Israeli occupation and settlements as perceived by 12%, and finally international boycott and financial sanctions as perceived by 10%. 73% of the public say they do not feel safe or secure in their homes while 26% say they do feel safe and secure. It seems that with Hamasís control over Gaza complete, more Gazans (41%) feel safe and secure than West Bankers (18%). Findings also show that a great majority of 85% believes that corruption exists in the PA institutions and that among those 59% believe that it will increase or remain the same in the future.

Conditions described above lead 28% of the Palestinians to seek immigration to other countries while 23% say they are not proud of being Palestinians. It is worth mentioning that more than a year ago, in May 2006, the percentage of those wishing to immigrate stood at 17% and the percentage of those not proud of being Palestinians did not exceed 2%.

 

Similarly, events in Gaza have affected public evaluation of democracy. In this poll 41% (compared to 56% in our last survey in March 2007) said that democracy is a viable system suitable for Palestine and 54% (compared to 40% last March) said that democracy is a failed system unsuitable for Palestine. Despite this negative assessment of democracy, 42% of those who said that democracy is unsuitable for Palestine said they want to maintain it despite its problems while 45% said it should be replaced with an undemocratic system.

 

Findings show that despite the spread of violence and calls for extremism in the Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (82%) describes acts such as kidnapping of foreigners, burning of internet cafes, and bombing of foreign schools as criminal deserving condemnation while only 3% describe them as nationalist deserving support. 12% say some of these acts are nationalist and others are criminal.

 

(4) Peace Process ††

  • Support for the Saudi initiative stands at 66% and opposition at 31%. 36% say they believe that Hamas supports the Saudi Initiative and 41% say it opposes it.
  • 60% support and 38% oppose a two-state proposal based on mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people after the establishment of a Palestinian state and the resolution of all issues of conflict. In such a case, 70% would support and 28% would oppose reconciliation between the two peoples.
  • After being informed of its main items, 63% support and 36% oppose the May 2007 American Security Plan.
  • 63% support the proposed ceasefire proposal of PA president and 34% oppose it.
  • 35% support and 61% oppose deployment of armed international forces along the Gaza borders with Egypt and Israel in order to prevent smuggling and rocket attacks against Israel.
  • Only 26% believe that the chances are medium or high for the creation of a Palestinian state in the next five years; 70% say the chances are slim or non existent.
  • Similarly, only 31% believe that it is possible these days to reach a compromise agreement with Olmertís government and 65% say that it is impossible to do so.

 

The poll asked about public attitudes regarding various aspects of the peace process in order to asses the impact of the infighting on those attitudes. Findings indicate a slight decrease in support for the Saudi initiative and for the two-state solution but show support for security proposals aimed at restoring stability to Palestinian-Israeli relations. They also show a great deal of pessimism about the chances for the creation of a Palestinian state or for reaching a compromise settlement with the Israeli Olmert government.

 

Support for the Saudi initiative drops to 66%, compared to 72% in our March poll. Opposition to this initiative stands at 31%. Findings also show that 36% of the public believe that Hamas supports the Saudi initiative while 41% believe it does not. Moreover, 25% believe that the Olmert government supports the initiative while 55% believe it does not. When, in an elaboration of a possible version of the Saudi initiative, we inserted a proposed solution to the refugee problem based on the Clinton Parameters of 2000, i.e., a solution based on UN resolution 194 but in which return to Israel is subject to an Israeli decision, support for this version of the Saudi initiative drops to 46% and opposition increases to 49%.

 

Findings also show that 60%, compared to 63% last March, support and 38% oppose a two-state solution whereby Israel is recognized as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine is recognized as the state for the Palestinian people after the establishment of a Palestinian state and the resolution of all issues of conflict. In such an environment, 70% would support reconciliation between the two peoples.

 

Respondents were presented with a list of the major components of the American security plan that was presented to the parties in May 2007 and included from the Palestinian side the ending of terrorism, stopping the launching of rockets against Israel, ending smuggling of arms, and putting an end to lawlessness, and from the Israeli side the opening of international crossings, linking the West Bank with Gaza, and removal of Israeli check points in the West Bank. 63% said they support and 36% said they oppose the American security plan. Similarly, 63% supported and 34% opposed the plan presented by PA president Abbas for a ceasefire with Israel that would start in the Gaza Strip and then extend to the West Bank. Support for this ceasefire plan stands at 54% in the Gaza Strip and 68% in the West Bank.

 

Findings indicate a strong opposition to the deployment of armed international forces along the borders with Egypt and Israel in order to prevent smuggling and launching of rockets against Israel. Only 35% supported and 61% opposed this proposal. Support for the deployment of such forces increases to 38% in the Gaza Strip and decreases to 33% in the West Bank. Support also increases among supporters of Fateh (48%) compared to supporters of Hamas (18%).

 

Despite the support for the Saudi initiative and the two-state solution, only 26% believe that the chances are medium or high for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the next five years while 70% believe the chances are low or non existent. Similarly, only 31% believe that it is possible these days to reach a compromise agreement with the Olmert government and 65% believe it is impossible.

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