PSR - Survey Research Unit: Poll No. 28 - Press Release


9 June 2008

PRESS RELEASE

 

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll  No (28)

With Abbas taking the initiative by renewing dialogue with Hamas, and with Hamas failing to open the Rafah Crossing or force Israel  to agree to a ceasefire, Abbas gains some public support and Hamas’s popularity drops

 

5-7 June 2008

These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 5 and 7 June 2008. This period witnessed the declaration by the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmud Abbas of his desire to renew dialogue with Hamas. It also witnessed continued closure of the Rafah border crossing despite Hamas’s attempt to open it. Indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel on a ceasefire failed to produce agreement while the threat of a possible Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip escalated further. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. This press release cover domestic Palestinian issues; issues related to the peace process and Israeli-Palestinian relations will be covered in a separate joint Palestinian-Israeli press release. 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 indicate a limited decline in the various indicators of Hamas’s power in the second quarter of 2008 compared to the first quarter of the year. Decline can be seen in the popularity of the movement, the popularity of its prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, and in the percentage of those who describe Haniyeh’s government as legitimate.  By contrast, Mahmud Abbas’s popularity and the positive evaluation of his performance increase compared to his standing in the first quarter of this year. Moreover, positive evaluation of conditions in the West Bank increases as feelings of safety and security improves. A majority believes that the recently deployed Palestinian security forces have succeeded in enforcing law and order in the areas of their deployment in the West Bank. As expected, the largest percentage believes that Abbas is more able than Hamas’s government in reaching a peace agreement with Israel. But surprisingly, the largest percentage believes that Abbas is also more able than Hamas’s government in forcing Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians.

The changes in the second quarter of 2008 might have been the result of two developments: Abbas has taken the initiative away from Hamas when he gave the green light for a resumption of dialogue with Hamas and Hamas has failed in moving forward any of the issues it championed during this period. These issues included the opening of the Rafah border crossing and forcing Israel to agree to a ceasefire with the Islamist group. In the first quarter of this year, Abbas and his government, headed by Salam Fayyad, were seen by the public as impotent in confronting Israel’s policies such as settlement construction and the increased restrictions on movement. By contrast, Hamas was seen as successful in breaking the siege on Gaza and in retaliating against Israel by carrying out two major armed attacks inside Israel, such as the suicide attack in Dimona and the attack at Merkaz Harav religious school in West Jerusalem. The measures taken by Hamas in the first quarter of 2008 managed to present the Islamist group as successful in confronting Israel at a time when Abbas and his government were seen as lacking the initiative.

 ·        The Gap between the standing of PA President Mahmud Abbas and Hamas’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has increased to 12 percentage points in favor of Abbas. If new presidential elections are held today, and the only two candidates were Abbas and Haniyeh, the former would receive the support of 52% and the latter 40%. This finding represents an increase in the popularity of Abbas which stood at 46% last March compared to 47% for Haniyeh. If the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former would receive 61% to Haniyeh’s 34%. Level of non-participation in the presidential elections would reach 39% if the competition was between Abbas and Haniyeh and 27% if the competition was between Barghouti and Haniyeh.

·        Moreover, the gap between Fateh and Hamas increases from 7 percentage points last March to 12 percentage points in this poll. If new parliamentary elections are to take place today, Hamas would receive 31% (compared to 35% last March) and Fateh would received 43% (compared to 42% last March).

·        Satisfaction with the performance of Abbas reaches 46% in this poll (compared to 41% last March). Moreover, 33% (compared to 30% last March) say the performance of Fayyad’s government is good or very good and 38% say it is bad or very bad. By comparison, 37% (compared to 39% last March) say the performance of Haniyeh’s government is good or very good and 35% say it is bad or very bad.

·        Findings indicate that 45% (compared to 49% last March) believe that Haniyeh should stay in office as prime minister while 47% say he should not. By contrast, 42% (compared to 38% last March) say Fayyad’s government should stay in office and 51% say it should not.  29% say Haniyeh’s government is the legitimate Palestinian government and 31% say Fayyad’s government is the legitimate one; 7% say both governments are legitimate and 28% say both are illegitimate. Three months ago, 34% said Haniyeh’s government was legitimate while 29% said Fayyad’s was legitimate.

·        Perception of personal and family security and safety increases in the West Bank from 32% last March to 40% in this poll. But the percentage of personal and family security and safety in the Gaza Strip is higher than in the West Bank as it reaches 49% (compared to 46% in Gaza last March). In this regard, 57% say that the deployment of the Palestinian security forces in some cities and towns in the West Bank has succeeded or somewhat succeeded in enforcing law and order while 34% say the deployment has failed to do that. When asked about their perceptions regarding the true purpose of the deployment, 35% said the purpose was to enforce law and order, 28% said it was to disarm the resistance forces, and 23% said it was both, the enforcement of law and order and the disarming of the resistance forces.

·        While only 23% give a positive evaluation of the status of democracy in the Gaza Strip under the Hamas government, the percentage for the West Bank under Fayyad’s government is higher (33%). Moreover, while only 5% describe the overall conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as good or very good, the percentage for the overall conditions in the West Bank is higher (25%).

·        A majority of 59% describes PA handling of the case of the smuggling of mobile phone in the car of the former speaker of the Palestinian parliament as a cover for corruption while only 28% describe it as an example of fighting corruption.

·        About half of the Palestinians (49%) say that the PA under Mahmud Abbas is more able than Hamas’s government under Ismail Haniyeh to reach a peace agreement with Israel while only 15% say the Hamas government is more able to do so. Moreover, 41% believe that the PA under Abbas is more able than Hamas’s government to force Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians while only 25% believe Hamas’s government is more able to do so. Even if the choice was between Abbas and Marwan Barghouti, Abbas comes on top with 31% while only 28% believe Barghouti would be more able than Abbas to force Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians.

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