PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 26

PSR - Survey Research Unit

07 January 2008

 

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. (26)

 

A Total Lack of Confidence in the Annapolis Process Keeps Hamas’s Popularity Stable Despite Worsening Conditions in the Gaza Strip

 

11-16 December 2007

 

 

Table of Contents:

 

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 11-16 December 2007. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. This poll release covers three issues: public evaluation of the situation in the Gaza Strip compared to the West Bank six months after the Hamas take over of the Gaza Strip; attitudes toward the peace process such as the Annapolis conference and the permanent settlement; and the domestic balance of power. For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel 02-296 4933 or email pcpsr@pcpsr.org.

 

Main Findings:

 

Findings show that Hamas’s popularity relative to Fateh’s has now stabilized despite the fact that public evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip has become bleaker than it was three months ago and despite the fact that a big gap exists in the public’s evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip compared to conditions in the West Bank in favor of conditions in the latter. Findings also indicate stability in public attitudes regarding Hamas’s military step against Fateh and the PA in the Gaza Strip last June and regarding the legitimacy of the governments of Ismail Haniyeh and Salam Fayyad.

 

Hamas’s ability to achieve this stability might reflect public disappointment with the Annapolis conference and the process it unleashed. Findings show that only a small percentage views the conference as a success or expects a successful outcome for the negotiations it authorized. They also show that public confidence in the ability of the Palestinian leadership to conduct permanent status negotiations or implement a permanent settlement is very limited. The same lack of confidence applies to public perception of the abilities of the Israeli leadership. A slightly less pessimism applies to public perception of the ability of the two sides to implement their commitments under the Roadmap. It is interesting to note that Palestinian positive evaluation of its side’s ability to implement its commitments under the Roadmap improves dramatically when assuming that the Israeli side has implemented its own obligations.

 

Public attitude regarding a permanent settlement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva Initiative remains stable as it has been since December 2005 before Hamas’s electoral victory. These attitudes reflect a divided public with one half supporting and another opposing such a settlement. A small majority supported this permanent settlement only in December 2004. The drop in support for the compromises of the permanent settlement might have been a reaction to the Israeli unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September 2005.

 

(1) Situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank six months after Hamas’s Military Takeover of the Gaza Strip

  • 74% oppose Hamas’s June 2007 take over of the Gaza Strip and 21% support it.
  • 41% believe and 47% do not believe that Hamas is planning a similar take over in the West Bank.
  • Only 8% describe overall conditions in the Gaza Strip today as good or very good and 85% describe them as bad or very bad. By contrast, 31% describe overall conditions in the West Bank as good or very good and 41% describe them as bad or very bad.
  • Positive evaluation of economic conditions in the Gaza Strip do not exceed 5% while 47% describe conditions in the West Bank as good or very good.
  • Positive evaluation of democracy and human rights conditions in the Gaza Strip does not exceed 28% compared to 42% for conditions in the West Bank.
  • 52% of residents of the Gaza Strip compared to 44% of the residents of the West Bank say they feel safe and secure in their homes. These percentages represent an increase in the level of perceived safety and  security particularly in the West Bank (three months ago perception of safety and security reached 35% in the West Bank)
  • Level of confidence is slim in the media controlled by Hamas and (19%) and Fateh (24%) while 46% do not trust either side.
  • 27% say that current conditions force them to seek immigration abroad; in the Gaza Strip, the percentage stands at 32%.

 

Findings show that about three quarters of the public continue to oppose the military step taken by Hamas in the Gaza Strip as was the case last September. But the percentage of negative evaluation (bad or very bad) of conditions in the Gaza Strip has increased from 80% to 85% while negative evaluation of conditions in the West Bank has decreased from 45% to 41% during the same period. The gap in public evaluation of conditions in the West Bank compared to those in the Gaza Strip is very big favoring the former. For example, while 93% said economic conditions in the Gaza Strip are bad or very bad, the percentage for the West Bank was 51%. Similarly, negative public evaluation of conditions of democracy, particularly, freedom of the press, in the Gaza Strip reaches 65% compared to 44% for same conditions in the West Bank. Negative evaluation of the status of law and order in the Gaza Strip reaches 60% compared to 42% for West Bank conditions. But negative evaluations of the status of personal safety and security in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are equal standing at 45% for Gazans (commenting on the situation in the Gaza Strip only) and an identical percentage for West Bankers (commenting on the situation in the West Bank only). However, when asked about their own personal feelings of safety and security, 52% of the Gazans said they feel safe and secure in their own homes while only 44% of the West Bankers said they felt safe and secure in their own homes. Despite the fact that the percentage in the West Bank is smaller than that in the Gaza Strip, it is noticeable that it reflects a significant increase from the 35% reported in our September 2007 poll.

 

Negative evaluation of the overall conditions in the Gaza Strip increases among supporters of Fateh (95%) compared to supporters of Hamas (64%), among supporters of the peace process (90%) compared to those opposed to it (69%), among women (87%) compared to men (83%), among residents of the Gaza Strip (87%) compared to residents of the West Bank (84%). By contrast, negative evaluation of overall conditions in the West Bank increases among supporters of Hamas (54%) compared to supporters of Fateh (25%), among those opposed to the peace process (60%) compared to supporters of the peace process (35%), among women (44%) compared to men (37%), and among residents of the West Bank (47%) compared to residents of the Gaza Strip (30%).

 

Findings also indicated that a larger percentage of the public does not believe that Hamas plans to take over the West Bank in the same manner it took over the Gaza Strip (47% do not believe it while 41% believe it). The percentage of those who believe that Hamas does indeed plan a military take over of the West Bank increases among residents of the Gaza Strip (45%) compared to residents of the West Bank (40%), among men (44%) compared to women (39%), among those who say they are “somewhat religious” (46%) compared to those who say they are religious (37%), among supporters of Fateh (55%) compared to supporters of Hamas (30%), among holders of BA degree (48%) compared to those with elementary education (37%), among employees (51%) compared to housewives (38%), among those between the ages of 18-22 (47%) compared to those whose age is over 52 (35%), and among supporters of the peace process (46%) compared to those opposed to it (35%).

 

Public confidence in the media of the two factions, Fateh and Hamas, is small with only 19% having confidence in Hamas’s media compared to 24% having confidence in Fateh’s media. The largest percentage (46%) trusts neither side. Confidence in Hamas’s media increases among residents of the Gaza Strip (24%) compared to residents of the West Bank (17%). Similarly, confidence in Fateh’s media increases among residents of the Gaza Strip (27%) compared to residents of the West Bank (23%).

 

Finally, a decrease has been reported in this poll in the percentage of those who believe that separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is temporary and that the two authorities will be unified in the coming months from 29% last September to 36% in this poll. Optimism about the chances for a quick unification increases among residents of the Gaza strip (55%) compared to residents of the West Bank (25%), among residents of refugee camps (46%) compared to residents of towns and villages (27%), among the religious (44%) compared to the “somewhat religious” (27%) among supporters of Hamas (50%) compared to supporters of Fateh (33%), and among the illiterates (46%) compared to holders of BA degree (30%).  

 

(2) Peace Process: Annapolis and the permanent settlement

  • Only 11% of the Palestinians deem the Annapolis conference a success in pushing the peace process forward, 59% see it as a failure.
  • Only 23% of the Palestinians believe the two sides will indeed succeed in achieving the goal of a permanent settlemnet before the end of 2008 and 72% believe they will not succeed.
  • Only 18% believe that the other side’s leadership will indeed implement their roadmap obligations, while 79% do not believe these obligations will be implemented. On the other hand 67% think that their leadership will implement these obligations if the other side implements them.
  • Findings indicate stability in support of the overall package along the lines of the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva initiative: 47% support and 49% oppose the whole package combining the elements as one permanent status settlement. Majorities support components related to final borders and territorial exchange (56%), end of conflict (66%), and security arrangements (51%) while minorities support other components related to refugees (39%), Jerusalem (36%), and the establishment of a state without an army (23%).
  • 32% believe that it is possible and 64% think it is impossible these days to reach a permanent status agreement with Olmert’s government.
  • About two thirds (65%) believe that chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the next five years are slim or non existent while 32% say the chances are medium or high.
  • 49% agree with the proposal that after reaching a permanent agreement to all issues of the conflict, there would be mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people. 49% disagree to this step.

 

Findings show a widespread disappointment with the Annapolis conference with 59% describing it as a failure and only 11% describing it as a success. Moreover, the public does not believe that the process unleashed by the Annapolis conference will succeed, with 72% saying that the two sides will fail in reaching a permanent agreement during 2008 as indicated in the Annapolis Joint statement. Pessimism also prevails regarding Israel’s willingness to implement its obligations under the Roadmap with 79% saying that Israeli leaders will not implement the commitments they took upon themselves in the Roadmap while only 18% believe they will. Even with regard to the ability of the Palestinian side under the leadership of President Mahmud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to implement its Roadmap obligations, the public is skeptical with 52% believing it can and 44% believing it can not. But if the Israeli side does implement its Roadmap obligations, 67% of the public believe that the Palestinian leadership will in this case implement its Roadmap obligations.

Confidence in the ability of the Palestinian side to implement its Roadmap obligations if Israel implements its own increases among supporters of Fateh (82%) compared to supporters of Hamas (46%), among supporters of the peace process (73%) compared to those opposed to it (49%), and among the “somewhat religious” (71%) compared to the religious (64%).  Optimism about the ability of the Israelis and the Palestinians to reach a permanent settlement during 2008 increases among residents of the Gaza Strip (29%) compared to residents of the West Bank (19%), among supporters of Fateh (38%) compared to supporters of Hamas (7%), among the illiterates (27%) compared to holders of BA degree (19%), among employees (25%) compared to students (18%), among those over 52 years of age (27%) compared those between 18-22 years of age (21%), and among supporters of the peace process (30%) compared to those opposed to it (5%).

 

Findings show stability in the position of the Palestinians toward a permanent settlement along the lines of the Clinton parameters and the Geneva Initiative. In this poll, 47% supported such a package and 49% opposed it. Support for the same package stood at 48% in December 2006 and 46% in December 2005. From among the six elements of the package, support increases in this poll to a majority level for final borders and territorial exchange (56%), end of conflict (66%), and security arrangements (51%). Support decreases for the other three elements: refugees (39%), Jerusalem (36%), and the establishment of a state without an army (23%).

 

Support for Clinton’s Permanent/Geneva Initiative Framework

(2003-2007)

 

Dec

 03

Dec

 04

Dec

 05

Dec

 06

Dec

 07

1) Borders and Territorial Exchange

57%

63%

55%

61%

56%

2) Refugees

25%

46%

40%

41%

39%

3) Jerusalem

46%

44%

33%

39%

36%

4) Demilitarized Palestinian State

36%

27%

20%

28%

23%

5) Security Arrangements

23%

53%

43%

42%

51%

6) End of Conflict

42%

69%

64%

62%

66%

Overall Package

39%

54%

46%

48%

47%

 

Support for this package increases in the Gaza Strip (50%) compared to the West Bank (46%) among supporters of Fateh (63%) compared to supporters of Hamas (28%), and among supporters of the peace process (56%) compared to those opposed to the peace process (22%).

 

Findings indicate a decrease in the level of support for a settlement with a mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people within a context of a permanent settlement in which all issues of the conflict are resolved from 57% last September to 49% in this poll. Opposition to this mutual recognition of identity reaches 49% in this poll. This is the first time since June 2003 that a majority fails to support this recognition of identity. The decrease in support for this compromise comes after the Palestinian leadership has refused in November an Israeli request to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a pre condition to the Annapolis peace negotiations.

 

The public shows little confidence in the chances for reaching a permanent settlement with only 32% believing and 64% not believing that it is possible these days to reach a compromise solution between Abbas and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and that even if an agreement is reached, only 31% believe that Olmert is capable of implementing it on the ground. Also, the public shows little confidence in the ability of its own leadership to reach a permanent agreement or to implement one with only 39% believing that Abbas is strong enough to negotiate a permanent compromise settlement. Even if such a settlement is reached 42% believe and 52% do not believe Abbas has the ability to implement it on the ground.

 

This pessimism about the lack of ability on both sides to reach an agreement or implement one is reflected on expectations regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state during the next five years. Almost two thirds (65%) say the chances that this would happen are slim or non existent while 32% say that chances are high or medium.  In June 2007, 26% believed that the chances were medium or high and 70% said the chances were slim or non existent

 

(3) Domestic Balance of Power:

  • If new legislative elections are held today, Hamas would receive 31% of the vote and Fateh 49%. 10% and 11% remain undecided.
  • Satisfaction with the performance of Mahmud Abbas reaches 50% compared to 45% last September and 36% last June.
  • If new elections are held today and the two candidates were Mahmud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, Abbas would receive 56% of the vote and Haniyeh 37%. But if the presidential elections were a contest between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, Barghouti would receive 63% and Haniyeh 32%.
  • 42% say they agree that Haniyeh should stay as prime minister in the Gaza Strip while 52% say they do not agree with that. On the other hand, 51% say they agree that Salam Fayyad should stay as prime minister while 40% disagree with that.
  • In a contest over legitimacy, 27% say that Haniyeh’s government is the legitimate one while 37% say Fayyad’s government is the legitimate one. 11% say the two are legitimate and 21% say the two are illegitimate.

 

Findings show that the balance of power between Fateh and Hamas has now stabilized after a widening of the gap to Fateh’s advantage took place last September. If new parliamentary elections are held today, with all factions participating, 31% would vote for Hamas’s list, Change and Reform, and 49% would vote for Fateh while all other lists combined would receive 10% and 11% remain undecided. Support for Hamas reaches 33% in the Gaza Strip and 28% in the West Bank and support for Fateh reaches 52% in the Gaza Strip and 47% in the West Bank. Support for Hamas increases among women (34%) compared to men (27%) while the opposite is true for Fateh with support among men reaching 50% and among women reaching 48%. Support for Hamas increases among the religious (35%) compared to the “somewhat religious” (26%), but this is also true for Fateh with support among the religious reaching 50% and among the “somewhat religious” 47%. Support for Hamas decreases among employees (19%) and increases among students (33%) while support for Fateh increases among employees (61%) compared to students (47%). Support for Hamas increases among those working in the private sector (25%) compared to public sector (18%). Support for Fateh increases among employees of the public sector (67%) and decreases to 45% among employees of the private sector. Finally, support for Hamas increases among those opposed to the peace process (66%) compared to supporters of the peace process (22%) and support for Fateh decreases among those opposed to the peace process (10%) and increases among supporters of the peace process (60%).

 

Satisfaction with the performance of Abbas increases in this poll to 50% compared to 45% last September and 36% last June. If new presidential elections took place today and only two candidates, Abbas and Haniyeh, competed, Abbas would win 56% of the vote to Haniyeh’s 37%. If the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former would receive 63% and the latter 32%.

 

Findings show that 42% approve and 52% disapprove of Haniyeh remaining in his post as prime minister in the Gaza Strip while 51% approve and 40% disapprove of Salam Fayyad remaining in his post as prime minister. Parallel to this, 27% say that Haniyeh’s government is the legitimate one while 37% say Fayyad’s is the legitimate one. 11% view both governments as legitimate and 21% view both as illegitimate. These findings indicate a small decrease in the percentage of those who view Haniyeh’s government as the legitimate one from the 30% it obtained last September while indicating no change in public perception regarding the legitimacy of Fayyad’s government.

 

 

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