PSR - Survey Research Unit: Poll No. 36 - Press Release

PSR Poll No. (36) - Press release

15 June 2010




Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (36)


In the aftermath of the Free Gaza flotilla incident, Turkey is the most popular regional country, but Hamas’s popularity remains unchanged while Salam Fayyad and his government gain greater public support


10-13 June 2010    


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 10 and 13 June 2010. The poll was conducted few days after the Israeli raid on the Free Gaza flotilla. It is worth noting also that the PA government of Salam Fayyad announced the cancellation of the local elections during the conduct of the poll. 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 covers domestic Palestinian issues; issues related to the peace process and Israeli-Palestinian relations will be covered in a separate joint Palestinian-Israeli press release and later in our detailed report on the poll. For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel 02-296 4933 or email


Main Findings:


Findings of the second quarter of 2010 indicate that despite the events associated with the Free Gaza flotilla and the Israeli attack on it, a significant improvement in the status of Salam Fayyad and his government has been registered. Moreover, findings also show no change in the popularity of Hamas compared to its standing in our previous poll last March. But it is worth mentioning that decision by Fayyad’s government to cancel local elections scheduled for next month came during the conduct of the poll. Our findings therefore do not necessarily reflect the views of the public in the aftermath of that decision. It is likely that the cancellation of elections will have a negative impact on the standing of Fayyad and his government and the standing of Abbas and Fateh. The public is likely to view the cancellation as an indication of a major failure in state and institution building,  a process led by Fayyad and his government, and an indication of fragmentation, panic and lack of leadership within Fateh.


Findings show that the public views positively the outcome associated with the Israeli attack on the Free Gaza flotilla seeing it as a victory for Palestinians and the beginning of the end or the weakening of the Gaza siege. But perhaps the biggest winner is Turkey who emerges from this as the most popular regional country.  Findings also show that the decision to boycott settlements products is clearly supported by a majority of the Palestinians. But the decision to prevent Palestinian laborers from working in Israeli settlements is rejected by the majority. The opposition to preventing laborers from working in settlements is probably motivated by lack of confidence in the ability of the Palestinian Authority to find alternative jobs to settlement workers at a time when findings show that poverty and unemployment is one of the most important problems that deserve, in the eyes of the public, to be made the second top priority for the PA, right after the first priority, the reunification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


(1) In the aftermath of the Free Gaza flotilla incident: Turkey wins


  • In an open question about the regional country seen as the most supportive of the Palestinians and their cause, 43% mentioned Turkey while only 13% mentioned Egypt, followed by 6% for Iran, 5% for Saudi Arabia, 5% for Syria, 3% for Lebanon, and 2% for Jordan. Turkey is slightly more popular in the Gaza Strip (45%) than in the West Bank (41%). It is interesting to note that Egypt has been mentioned by 25% of Gazans compared to only 6% of West Bankers.
  • A majority of 63% believe the Palestinian side is the one who came out the winner from the Free Gaza flotilla incident while 27% believe Israel came out the winner and 9% believe none of them came out a winner.
  • Moreover, a majority of 60% believe that in the aftermath of the incident, the Gaza siege will be weakened or ended while only 18% believe it will be strengthened.


(2) Comparing conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and evaluating the performance of the Fayyad government


  • Only 9% say conditions in the Gaza Strip today are good or very good while 35% say conditions in the West Bank are good or very good. But 62% of the Gazans and 60% of the West Bankers say that today they feel that their personal safety and security and that of their family are assured. In our last poll in March 2010, the percentage of those who expressed similar feelings reached 70% in the Gaza Strip and 55% in the West Bank. Despite the increased perception of safety and security, 44% say they are worried that they could be hurt in their daily life at the hands of someone from Fateh or Hamas. Worry levels reach 51% in the Gaza Strip compared to 40% in the West Bank.


  • Despite the drop in the perception of safety and security among Gazans, positive evaluation of the performance of the Haniyeh government remains unchanged since last March at 38%. But positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government increases from 42% last March to 48% in this poll. Moreover, satisfaction with Abbas’s performance increases slightly during the same period from 47% to 49%.


  • Perception that compared to the Haniyeh government, the Fayyad government is the legitimate one increases, with 27% indicating that the Haniyeh government is the legitimate one while 31% say the Fayyad government is the legitimate one; and 10% say both governments are legitimate and 27% say both are illegitimate. Last March, 28% said Haniyeh’s is the legitimate one and only 26% said Fayyad’s is the legitimate one. With regard to Abbas, now that his term as president has ended, 48% say he lost his legitimacy while 46% say he did not lose it.


  • The performance of the Fayyad government receives positive evaluation in the area of service delivery and negative evaluation in the area of freedoms. Three years after the establishment of the first Fayyad government, larger percentages believe conditions have become better in the areas of economy (47%), enforcement of law and order (57%), educational services (54%), and health services (56%) while much smaller percentages believe conditions in these same areas have become worse (27% for economic conditions, 19% for enforcement of law and order, 18% for education, and 14% for health services). But only 30% say conditions of corruption have improved compared to 31% who say these conditions have actually worsened. On the other hand, larger percentages believe conditions have become worse in the areas of political arrests (47%) and the right to demonstrate (44%) while only 19% say conditions regarding political arrests have become better and 27% say conditions regarding the right to demonstrate have become better.


  • But if Fateh sought to replace Fayyad with one of its own members, the largest percentage (48%) would oppose that while 43% would support it. Similarly, if Fateh asked Fayyad to appoint one of its members as a minister of finance, only 44% would support that while 48% would oppose it.


  • For Hamas’s government in the Gaza Strip, a majority of 57% support and 38% oppose its efforts to prevent the launching of rockets against Israeli towns. Support for these efforts reaches 49% among Gazans but increases to 62% among West Bankers. On the other hand, a majority of 59% believe the taxes imposed by the Hamas government on cigarettes and other products are not reasonable while only 34% view such taxes as reasonable. Belief that the taxes imposed by the Hamas governmet are reasonable reaches 31% in the Gaza Strip and 36% in the West Bank.


  • In light of the failure of Fateh and Hamas to reconcile, only 16% believe that re-unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be achieved soon while 55% say it will be achieved but only after a long time and 26% say unity will not resume at all and two separate entities will emerge.


(3) The struggle over the presidency


  • If new presidential elections are held today, Abbas would receive the vote of 54% and Haniyeh 39% of the vote of those participating while 7% say they are undecided. The rate of participation in such election would reach 61% with 39% saying they will not participate in elections in which Abbas and Haniyeh are the only candidates. Last March Abbas received 50% and Haniyeh 40%. If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 65% and the latter would receive 30% of the participants with non-participation rate dropping in this case to 28%.


  • If the competition over the presidency is between Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the former would receive 34% and the latter 19% while 3% say they are undecided and the remaining percentage (44%) say they will not vote for either candidate. But if the competition is between Fayyad and Marwan Barghouti, the former would receive the same percentage as in the previous case (19%) while the latter would receive 50% with 3% undecided and 28% voting for neither. If the competition was between Fayyad and Mustafa Barghouti (the head of al Mubadara), Fayyad’s vote would increase to 30% but Mustafa Barghouti would defeat him but with only 34% of the vote; 3% say they are undecided and 32% say they will vote for neither. Fayyad however would defeat Haniyeh in a presidential elections by 36% to 32%, with 3% undecided and 30% voting for neither.


  • Most popular figures selected by the public as possible vice presidents from a list of five provided to respondents are Marwan Barghouti (selected by 28% of the public), Ismail Haniyeh (20%), Salam Fayyad (14%) Mustafa Barghouti (10%), and Saeb Erekat (6%).


(4) Balance of power between Fateh and Hamas


  • If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 71% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 45% say they would vote for Fateh and 26% say they would vote for Hamas, 12% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 18% are undecided. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip reaches 49% and in the West Bank 42%. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip reaches 32% and in the West Bank 22%. Last March, Fateh received 42% and Hamas 28%, which means that Hamas has not benefited from Free Gaza flotilla incident which took place only few days before the conduct of the poll.


  • Hamas’s problem with the public remains unchanged as many believe it brings about siege and contribute to the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while the public tends to believe that Fateh contributes to the lifting of the siege and the ending of the spilt. For example, findings show that if Hams wins the next presidential and legislative elections,  majority of 62% believe this would lead to the consolidation of the siege and boycott on the Palestinian  government while only 12% believe the opposite. But if Fateh wins the next elections, only 11% believe this would lead to the tightening of the siege and blockade while 56% believe the opposite. With regard to unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in case of a Hamas win, 47% believe it would lead to the consolidation of the spilt while only 23% say it would consolidate unity. By contrast, if Fateh wins, only 29% believe it would consolidate the split while 36% believe it would consolidate unity.


  • In this regard, what worsens conditions for Hamas is the public belief that the two issues of national unity and ending the siege should be two of the most important Palestinian priorities. In an open question about the main problems confronting Palestinians which should be the top priorities of the PA, the largest percentage (33%) mentioned the absence of national unity due to the split, while 24% mentioned poverty and unemployment, 18% mentioned the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings, and 11% mentioned corruption in some pubic institutions, and 10% mentioned occupation and settlement activities.


(5) Local elections


  • A majority of 62% gives a positive evaluation to the performance of their local councils during the past five years while only 35% give it a negative evaluation. If local elections do take place, as was planned before the cancellation of the elections by the Fayyad government, 56% say they would participate in those elections even if boycotted by Hamas while 41% say they will not participate. Moreover, a majority of 51% believe that these elections, if they were to take place as scheduled, would be fair and free while 37% say they would not be fair or free. A larger percentage (48%) believes that if local elections are to take place on time, Fateh would win while 12% believe leftists and independents would win, Finally, a majority of 51% believe that if election do take place with Hamas boycotting it, it will lead to the consolidation of the internal split while only 17% say it would make reconciliation easier and 27% say it would have no impact on reconciliation or split.


(6) Boycott of settlements’ products and work in settlements


  •  While a majority of 72% support and 26% oppose a boycott of settlements’ products, only 38% support and 60% oppose preventing Palestinian laborers from working in settlements. While the Gaza Strip and the West Bank support the boycott of settlements’ products equally, support for preventing laborers from working in settlements is greater in the Gaza Strip, reaching 45%, than the West Bank (34%).



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


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