PSR - Survey Research Unit: Public Opinion Poll # 33
PSR Poll 33

3 September 2009

 

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (33)

While the popularity of Abbas and Fateh increases and the popularity of Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas decreases, and while the public shows some enthusiasm for a strong American role in the peace process and greater support for the Arab Peace Initiative, Palestinians are pessimistic about the chances for the reunification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and are less willing to accept concessions in a permanent settlement 

13-15 August 2009 

 

Table of contents:

·      Main Findings

·      Domestic Palestinian Conditions

·      Peace Process  

·      Table: Support for Clinton Parameters-Geneva Initiative Permanent Settlement 2003-2009

·      Main findings in numbers

 

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 13 and 15 August 2009. The poll was conducted in the aftermath of the holding of Fateh’s Sixth Congress in Bethlehem and Hamas’s refusal to allow Fateh members to leave the Gaza Strip to participate in the Congress. The poll examines the following topics: domestic issues such as the balance of power, Fateh’s Sixth Congress, perceptions of corruption, safety and security, attitudes toward elections, confidence in the police, as well as the various issues of the peace process such as the perception of the Obama administration and views on permanent status. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults 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:

Findings of the third quarter of 2009 show an increase in the popularity of Fateh and president Mahmud Abbas and a decline in the popularity of Hamas and Ismail Haniyeh, the dismissed prime minister. The rise in the popularity of Fateh and Abbas might in part be the result of Fateh’s success in holding its long awaited Sixth Congress and electing a new leadership. The decline in support for Hamas might in part be the result of its refusal to allow Fateh members in the Gaza Strip to travel to Bethlehem to participate in Fateh’s Sixth Congress. Findings show additional and perhaps deeper reasons for the change in the balance of power between Fateh and Hamas. For example, they show considerable improvement in public perception of personal and family security and safety in the West Bank and a noticeable decrease in public perception of the existence of corruption in PA institutions under Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.  In this context, findings show some optimism about the future of Fateh in the aftermath of its Sixth Congress and about the ability of its newly elected leadership to fight corruption inside the movement and to deliver reconciliation with Hamas. But the public does not believe that the new leadership will be different from the previous one in its ability to work to end the Israeli occupation.

Findings also show public confusion regarding new presidential and parliamentary elections. A majority believes that reconciliation talks between Fateh and Hamas will fail. A majority also believes that PA president and parliament will lose their legitimacy next January when their terms end. Nonetheless, a wide majority opposes postponing the elections and a majority also opposes holding elections under the current status quo, with Haniyeh’s government supervising it in the Gaza Strip and Fayyad’s government supervising it in the West Bank, even if they were organized by a single unified election commission. Moreover, an overwhelming majority opposes holding separate elections in either the Gaza Strip, organized by the Haniyeh government, or in the West Bank, organized by the Fayyad government. In any case, findings show that the public has no confidence in the ability of the legislative and presidential elections to contribute to the re-unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. An overwhelming majority believes that the two sides, Fateh and Hamas, or one of them, will reject the results of any new fair and free elections if those results were not in its favor.

Findings show an increase in the percentage of those who demand a stronger American intervention in the peace process compared to the situation about nine months ago, right after the Obama victory in the US presidential elections. They also show an increase in the level of optimism about the chances that the US intervention would help push the peace process forward along with an increase in support for the Arab Peace Initiative. But findings also show a decrease in the level of support for a permanent settlement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva Initiative. It is possible that the decrease represents a negative reaction to the various tough conditions attached by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his acceptance of the two-states solution. This decrease represents a continuation of the decline in support for this solution which we registered around the end of 2008 which might have occurred at that time as a reaction to the failure of the negotiations unleashed by the Annapolis Conference.

 

(1) Domestic Palestinian Conditions

  • Increase in support for Abbas and a decrease in support for Haniyeh with the gap between the two increasing from 5 percentage points (49% vs. 44%) to 14 percentage points (52% vs. 38%).
  • A similar increase is registered in the vote for Fateh against Hamas from 8 percentage points (41% vs. 33%) to 16 percentage points (44% vs. 28%).
  • Significant improvement in the perception of personal and family safety and security; improvement is particularly noticeable in the West Bank where it has increased from 43% to 58% in one year.
  • A decrease in the belief that corruption exists in Abbas-controlled PA institutions from 72% a year ago to 68% today.
  • 60% believe that Abbas loses his legitimacy when his term ends next January if no new elections are held and 59% believe the PLC too will lose its legitimacy on that date if no new elections are held.
  • Overwhelming majority (72%) opposes holding separate elections in the West Bank alone and an even higher percentage (79%) opposes separate elections in the Gaza Strip alone; 54% oppose unified West Bank-Gaza Strip elections under the current split. Moreover, 70% believe that Fateh and Hamas will reject the outcome of any free and fair elections if it was unfavorable to them. 60% oppose postponing elections.
  • A majority of 58% believes that the Cairo dialogue will fail and only 12% believe the unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will resume soon.
  • After Fateh’s Sixth Congress, percentage of optimists about the future of Fateh is higher than percentage of pessimists.
  • Among those who were subject to attack or robbery, majority does not submit complaints to the police; among those who submit complaints, overwhelming majority (73%) says it is not satisfied with the police performance.

Findings indicate an increase in the percentage of those who would vote for Mahmud Abbas as president of the PA from 49% three months ago to 52% in this poll and a decrease in the vote for Ismail Haniyeh from 44% to 38%. 9% remain undecided in this poll and only 60% say they would participate in those elections. However, if the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 62% of the vote and the latter 31%. 7% remain undecided and rate of participation increases to 71%.  Findings also show an increase in the percentage of those who would vote for Fateh from 41% three months ago to 44% in this poll and a decrease in the percentage of those who would vote for Hamas from 33% to 28% during the same period. Vote for all other electoral lists reaches 11% and 17% remain undecided. Rate of election participation stands at 68%.  Most popular figures selected by the public as possible vice president are Marwan Barghouti (selected by 37% of the public), Ismail Haniyeh (21%), Mustafa Barghouti (9%), Salam Fayyad (7%), and Saeb Erekat (4%).

Findings indicate a significant improvement in public perception of personal and family safety and security in the West Bank, standing today at 58% compared to 43% one year ago, 35% two years ago, and 25% four years ago (just few months before the last parliamentary elections in January 2006). Findings also show some improvement in the perception of personal and family safety and security in the Gaza Strip, standing today at 63% compared to 54% one year ago, 49% two years ago, and 55% four years ago (immediately after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and few months before the last parliamentary elections). Moreover, findings show a continued decline in the perception that corruption exists in PA institutions under the control of Abbas and Fayyad, standing today at 68% compared to 72% one year ago, 80% two years ago, and 87% four years ago (few months before the last parliamentary elections).

60% say PA president Abbas loses his legitimacy when his term ends next January if no new elections are organized and 30% say he does not. Similarly, 59% say the Palestinian Legislative Council loses its legitimacy next January when it too comes to the end of its term.  While an overwhelming majority (72%) opposes the holding of separate elections in the West Bank alone and a larger majority (79%) opposes holding separate elections in the Gaza Strip alone, and while a majority of 58% believes that the Fateh-Hamas dialogue in Cairo will fail-- and about one third believes that unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will not be resumed and two entities will be established while 12% say unity will resume soon and a majority of 53% says unity will resume but only after a long time-- a majority of 54% opposes the holding of election in all Palestinian territories next January under the current status quo of political split (assuming one is possible) with the presence of two separate governments, one in the West Bank and one in the Gaza Strip. 41% support such elections. In the meanwhile, a majority of 60% opposes the postponement of elections for a year or more and 36% support it.  Support for conducting legislative and presidential elections jointly in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but under the current conditions of political split, increases among women (44%) compared to men (37%), among supporters of the peace process (44%) compared those who oppose the peace process (32%), and among illiterates (60%) compared to holders of a BA degree (40%).

In addition to public confusion regarding elections, the public has no confidence in the ability of elections to contribute to national unification. 70% believe that both Fateh and Hamas, or one of them, will reject the results of a fair and free elections if these results favored its opponent. Only 22% say the two sides will accept those results. However, the overwhelming majority of the respondents (83%) say they themselves would accept the results of a fair and free election even if they favored those whom they did not vote for.

53% say they are worried that they or a member of their family would be hurt by other Palestinians, from Fateh or Hamas, and 46% say they are not worried. Respondents in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are equally worried. Three months ago, respondents in the  Gaza Strip were more worried than respondents in the West Bank (65% to 50%) which means that the level of worry has dropped considerably in the Gaza Strip and increased slightly in the West Bank.

In the aftermath of Fateh’s Sixth Congress, 39% say Fateh will become stronger and more unified in the future and 22% say it will become weaker and more fragmented and 34% say it will remain unchanged. 40% say the newly elected Fateh leadership will be more able than the previous leadership in achieving reconciliation with Hamas and 22% say it will be less able to do so. Similarly, 43% say the new leadership will be more able than the pervious one to fight corruption within Fateh while 21% think the opposite. But only 27% say the new leadership will be more able to work toward ending occupation and 28% say it will be less able than the pervious leadership. Belief that Fateh will become stronger and more unified increases in the Gaza Strip (48%) compared to the West Bank (34%), among supporters of the peace process (47%) compared to those opposed to the peace process (16%), and among supporters of Fateh (72%) compared to supporters of Hamas (16%).

9% of the public say they have, and 91% say they have not, been victims of attacks or robbery by other Palestinians during the past year. Among those, 40% say they have submitted a complaint to the police and security services and 58% say they have not. 41% of those who did not submit a complaint say the reason they did not submit one is that they do not trust the police while 43% say the police can not do anything to help them and 11% say they did not want to make the issue public. 26% of those who did submit a complaint say they were satisfied with the police work in the investigation to uncover the circumstances of the crime while 73% say they were not satisfied. The percentage of those who submitted complaints is higher in the West Bank (52%) than in the Gaza Strip (25%). Among those who did not submit a complaint to the police, 57% in the Gaza Strip and 22% in the West Bank say the reason for this is the lack of trust in the police. The levels of satisfaction with the performance of the police among those who submitted a complaint stands at 21% in the Gaza Strip and 28% in the West Bank.

 

(2) Peace Process  

  • 49% accept and 49% reject a mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for Palestinian people after all issues of the conflict have been resolved.
  • 69% believe that the chances for establishing an independent Palestinian state next to the state of Israel in the next five years are slim or non-existent
  • Eight months after Obama became the president of the US, 64% say US policy favors Israel, 7% say it favors the Palestinians; but 61% want the US to play a stronger role in the peace process and 29% do not want the US to intervene in the peace process.
  • If the US intervenes strongly in the peace process, 56% expect such intervention to lead to success and 26% expect it to fail to move the process forward.
  • 64% support the Arab (or Saudi) Peace Initiative and 34% oppose it; 58% believe the Palestinian side should accept an American intervention to pressure both the Palestinians and the Israelis to accept and implement this initiative and 39% believe the Palestinians should reject such intervention.
  • 38% support and 61% oppose a package containing the articles of a permanent status settlement along the lines of the Clinton parameters and the Geneva Initiative, but 45% believe the Palestinian side should accept an American intervention to pressure the two sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, to accept and implement this solution.
  • Only 35% believe that if the Arab countries offered confidence building measures to Israel, such measures would encourage it to offer concessions to Palestinians and 61% believe such Arab measures will have no impact.
  • If it was shown that Arab confidence measures were needed to push Israel to offer concessions to the Palestinians, 41% agree and 56% disagree that Arabs should in this case adopt such confidence building measures.

 

Findings show conflicting trends among Palestinians regarding the peace process. For example, while support increases for the Arab peace initiative and while demand for a stronger American role in the peace process rises, support continues to drop for compromises entailed in a permanent settlement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva Initiative. Findings indicate continued even split regarding mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people in return for recognition of Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people after resolving all issues of the conflict with 49% supporting it (compared to 50% in the last poll three months ago) and 49% opposing it. Findings also show continued pessimism about the chances for establishing an independent Palestinian state along side the state of Israel during the next five years with 69% believing that the chances are slim or nonexistence (compared to 69% three months ago) and 30% believing that the chances are medium to high.

 

Findings show rise in support for the Arab peace initiative from 57% in our last poll, three months ago, to 64% in this poll. Opposition to the initiative dropped from 40% to 34%. But support for a permanent settlement along the lines of the Clinton parameters and the Geneva initiative declines to 38%, with opposition standing at 61%. Support for this plan stood at 41% and opposition at 57% last December. As the table below indicates, support drops for five out of six items of the settlement. The table also show continued decline for the settlement, one that was recorded last December. Support for this permanent settlement had stabilized during the period between December 2005 and December 2007 after a big increase in December 2004.

 

Support for Clinton Parameters-Geneva Initiative Permanent Settlement

2003-2009

 

 

Dec

03

Dec

04

Dec

05

Dec

06

Dec

07

Dec

08

Aug

09

1) Borders and Territorial Exchange

57%

63%

55%

61%

56%

54%

49%

2) Refugees

25%

46%

40%

41%

39%

40%

37%

3) Jerusalem

46%

44%

33%

39%

36%

36%

31%

4) Demilitarized State

36%

27%

20%

28%

23%

27%

24%

5) Security Arrangements

23%

53%

43%

42%

51%

35%

34%

6) End of Conflict

42%

69%

64%

62%

66%

55%

55%

Overall Package

39%

54%

46%

48%

47%

41%

38%

 

Findings show that 49% support and 50% oppose the item related to borders whereby Israel withdraws from all the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with the exception of some settlement areas in less than 3% of the West Bank that would be swapped with an equal amount of territory from Israel. They also show that 37% support and 61% oppose the item related to refugees whereby refugees would be given five choices for permanent resettlement that would include an unlimited return to the Palestinian state and a limited return to Israel while providing compensation to all. They also show that 31% support and 68% oppose the item related to Jerusalem whereby East Jerusalem would be the capital of the Palestinian state with Arab neighborhoods coming under Palestinian sovereignty and Jewish neighborhoods coming under Israeli sovereignty and the Old City (including al Haram al Sharif) would come under Palestinian sovereignty with the exception of the Jewish Quarter and the Wailing Wall that would come under Israeli sovereignty. Support for the item related to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that would have no army, but would have a strong security force and would have a multinational force deployed in it to ensure its security and safety reaches 24% and opposition 76%. Findings also show that 34% support and 64% oppose the item related to security arrangements whereby the Palestinian state would have sovereignty over its land, water, and airspace, but Israel would have the right to use the Palestinian airspace for training purposes, and would maintain two early warning stations in the West Bank for 15 years. A multinational force would remain in the Palestinian state and in its border crossings for an indefinite period of time. The task of the multinational force would be to monitor the implementation of the agreement, and to monitor territorial borders and coast of the Palestinian state including the presence at its international crossings. Finally, 55% support and 44% oppose the compromise on ending the conflict that would state that when the permanent status agreement is fully implemented, it will mean the end of the conflict and no further claims will be made by either side.

 

Despite continued decline in support for the permanent settlement described above, findings show a rise in the demand for stronger American role in the peace process from 57% last December to 61% in this poll and a decrease in the opposition to such intervention from 35% to 29%. The increased support for an American intervention comes despite the fact that 64% believe that eight months after the election of Obama as the US president, US policy remains more supportive of Israel and only 7% believe it is more supportive of the Palestinians. The reason for this might be due to the increase in the percentage of those who believe that such an intervention would be successful in pushing the peace process forward from 49% in December 2008 to 56% in this poll, while expectations of failure dropped from 30% to 26%.

 

Findings also show that a majority of 58% believes that the Palestinian side should accept an American intervention to push the Israeli and Palestinian sides to accept and implement the Arab peace initiative while 39% believe it should reject it. Moreover, 45% believe that the Palestinian side should accept an American intervention to push the Israeli and Palestinian sides to accept and implement a permanent settlement along the lines of the Clinton Parameters and the Geneva Initiative as described above.

 

The poll asked also about possible Arab normalization of relations with Israel. Only 35% believe that if Arab countries were to take confidence building steps (such as allowing commercial relations) this would encourage Israel to make concessions to Palestinians and 61% think such steps would have no impact on Israel. If it was proven that such steps were indeed needed in order to push Israel to make concessions to Palestinians, 41% agree and 56% disagree that in this case Arab countries should take those steps. Support for taking such steps increases among supporters of the peace process (44%) compared to those opposed to the peace process (29%) and among supporters of Fateh (53%) compared to supporters of Hamas (35%).

 

 

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

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