PSR - Survey Research Unit: Poll No. 38  - Press Release


PSR Poll No. (38)

 

20 December 2010  

 

PRESS RELEASE

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (38)

While pessimism about the restoration of unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip increases, and while more people now believe that they cannot criticize the authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip without fear, and while the credibility of the authorities in the two regions diminishes in the eyes of the public, the balance of power between Fateh and Hamas and Abbas and Haniyeh remains unchanged throughout 2010

 

16-18 December 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 16-18 December 2010. The poll was conducted after the US ended its attempts to convince the Israeli government to freeze settlement construction and after it asked the Israelis and the Palestinians to enter into indirect negotiations. Before the conduct of the poll, authorities in the West Bank arrested a Hamas cell and accused it of plotting to assassinate the governor of Nablus and Hamas sentenced three Fateh members to death after convicting them of killing a Gazan mosque preacher. This release covers issues related to domestic conditions, the performance of the governments of Salam Fayyad and Ismail Haniyeh, the internal balance of power between Fateh and Hamas, the future of reconciliation and reunification, and the views of the public on the most vital Palestinian goals and the most serious problems confronting Palestinians today. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. While this press release covers domestic Palestinian issues, other 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 more detailed report on the poll. 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 fourth quarter of 2010 indicate an increase in the level of pessimism regarding the chances for reconciliation and restoration of unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They also indicate an overwhelming rejection of alternative forms of relations between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip such as a confederation or separate elections in each region. Findings also show widespread distrust in the authorities in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip regarding Fateh-Hamas relationship. For example, only a quarter or less believe as true the news about a Hamas plot to assassinate the governor of Nablus or that the three Fateh members sentenced to death in Gaza have received a fair trial.

Findings also point out to a significant and continued deterioration in public perception of the level of freedoms enjoyed by citizens in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the split between these two areas in June 2007. For example, belief that citizens can criticize the authorities in the West Bank without fear retreated from 56% in September 2007 to 27% in this poll. Similarly a retreat occurred in the belief that citizens can criticize the authorities in the Gaza Strip without fear from 52% to 19% during the same period.

Finally, findings show that the balance of power between Fateh and Hamas has remained almost unchanged compared to the situation during the third quarter of the year. The same is true regarding the popularity of president Mahmud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh. Moreover, findings regarding the balance of power in the fourth quarter of this year are very similar to those of the final quarter of 2009 which means that the internal and external developments throughout 2010 has left no impact on this critical issue of internal balance between Fateh and Hamas and Abbas and Haniyeh.

 

(1) Conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the performance of the governments of Haniyeh and Fayyad:

  • 17% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good and 62% describe them as bad or very bad. In our last poll, three months ago, in September-October, only 11% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good and 70% said it was bad or very bad. By contrast, 35% describe conditions in the West Bank as good or very good and only 31% describe them as bad or very bad. Three months ago, these percentages stood at 33% and 34% respectively.
  • 71% say there is corruption in the PA institutions in the West Bank while only 61% say there is corruption in the institutions of the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip. These percentages are similar to those obtained three months ago.
  • 60% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank and 34% say there is no such freedom in the West Bank. By contrast, 42% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip while 47% say there is no such freedom in the Gaza Strip. These results are similar to those obtained three months ago.
  • Yet, only 27% say people in the West Bank can criticize the authority in the West Bank without fear. By contrast, only 19% say people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear. Since the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in June 2007, these percentages have witnessed gradual and significant decrease. As the table below shows, belief that people can criticize the authorities in the West Bank without fear stood at 56% while 52% believed that people can criticize the authorities without fear in the Gaza Strip. These percentages dropped in August 2008 to 47% for criticizing the authorities in the West Bank and 42% for criticizing the authorities in the Gaza Strip. A further drop occurred last September to 30% and 24% respectively.

 

Table: Gradual decrease in belief about the ability to criticize authorities in the West Bank or Gaza Strip since the split between the two areas

 

Date

Ability to criticize authorities in the West Bank

Ability to criticize authorities in the Gaza Strip

December 2010

27%

19%

September 2010

30%

24%

March 2009

37%

29%

August 2008

47%

42%

September 2007

56%

52%

  

  • Perception of safety and security stands at 61% in the West Bank and 58% in the Gaza Strip. These results are similar to those obtained three months ago.
  • Positive evaluation of the performance of the governments of Ismail Haniyeh and Salam Fayyad remains unchanged as it was three months ago standing at 36% for the Haniyeh’s government and 43% for the Fayyad government.
  • But findings show an increase in the percentage of Gazans who say that political, security, and economic conditions force them to seek immigration to other countries from 37% three months ago to 45% in this poll. In the West Bank, the percentage of those wishing to immigrate remains unchanged at 24%.
  • Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas did not change during the past three months standing today at 50% while 45% say they are not satisfied. Satisfaction with the performance of the president stands at 47% in the Gaza Strip and 52% in the West Bank.
  • 23% say the government of Haniyeh is the legitimate Palestinian government and 29% say the Fayyad government is the legitimate one. 34% say both governments are illegitimate. These results indicate a slight decrease in the percentage of those who view the Haniyeh government as legitimate.

 

(2) Presidency and Legislative Elections:

  • If new presidential elections are held today, and only two were nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 56% and Haniyeh 38% of the vote of those participating. The rate of participation in such election would reach 59%. Three months ago, Abbas received 57% and Haniyeh 36%. In the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives 53% and Haniyeh 43% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 59% and Haniyeh 34%.
  • If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 65% and the latter would receive 31% of the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach 69%. In the Gaza Strip, Barghouti receives 61% and Haniyeh 37% and in the West Bank Barghouti receives 68% and Haniyeh 27%. These results are similar to those obtained three months ago.
  • Most popular figures selected by the public as possible vice presidents from a list of five provided to respondents are Marwan Barghouti (selected by 27% of the public), Ismail Haniyeh (18%), Salam Fayyad (16%) Mustafa Barghouti (11%), and Saeb Erekat (5%).
  • If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 69% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 25% say they would vote for Hamas and 44% say they would vote for Fateh, 11% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 20% are undecided. These results are similar to those obtained three months ago. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip is 26% and in the West Bank 24%. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip is 48% and in the West Bank 42%.

 

 (3) Future of reconciliation and level of confidence in Fateh’s and Hamas’s statements:

  • In light of the failure of the latest Damascus meeting between Fateh and Hamas, the public remains pessimistic about the future of reconciliation and the restoration of unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: belief that the split is permanent increases from 30% three months ago to 39% in this poll. Percentage of those who believe that unity will be restored soon drops from 14% to 8% during the same period. 49%, compared to 51% three months ago, say unity will return but only after a long time.
  • Responsibility for the continued split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is placed on Hamas by 15% of the respondents and on Fateh by 13% and on both together by 62%.
  • But when asked about the future of the unity of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip if Hamas wins new elections, 55% say such a win would consolidate the split. But if Fateh wins, only 31% say its win would consolidate the split. Only 13% say a Hamas electoral victory would consolidate unity while 30% say a Fateh electoral victory would consolidate unity.
  • Moreover, findings show that 86% believe that if Hamas wins the next presidential and legislative elections such victory would lead to the consolidation of the siege and boycott on the Palestinian government or would keep things as they are today. But if Fateh wins the next elections, only 41% believe this would lead to the tightening of the siege and blockade or would keep conditions as they are today. 55% believe that a Fateh victory would lead to the lifting of the siege and boycott but only 10% believe a Hamas victory would lead to the lifting of the siege and boycott.
  • 65% reject and 32% accept an alternative relationship between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - other than a full restoration of unity - such as a confederation even if this alternative is temporary. In the confederate system that was rejected by two thirds, the government of Haniyeh would continue to administer the affairs of the Gaza Strip and the government of Fayyad would continue to administer the affairs of the West Bank, but President Abbas would preside over the two regions. Support for this alternative reaches 26% in the Gaza Strip and 36% in the West Bank.
  • Similarly, only 22% support and 76% oppose the holding of separate elections, one in the West Bank administered by the Fayyad government and one in the Gaza Strip administered by the Haniyeh government, even if this leads to the election of one legislative council and one president for the two regions. Support for the separate elections reaches 19% in the Gaza Strip and 24% in the West Bank.
  • Less than one quarter (24%) believes that Hamas was indeed plotting to assassinate the governor of Nablus and 41% do not believe that while 35% say they do not know or are not certain. Belief that Hamas was indeed plotting to assassinate the governor reaches 30% in the Gaza Strip compared to 21% in the West Bank.
  • Similarly, only 22% believe that the three Fateh members sentenced to death by a court in the Gaza Strip - after being convicted of killing a Gazan Mosque preacher- have received a fair trial. 46% believe that they did not receive a fair trial and 32% are not sure or do not know. Belief that the trial was fair reaches 28% in the Gaza Strip compared to 19% in the West Bank.

 

(4) Most vital Palestinian goals and the main problems confronting Palestinians today:

  • The largest percentage (48%) believes that the first most vital Palestinian goal should be to end Israeli occupation in the areas occupied in 1967 and build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. By contrast, only 21% believe the first most vital goal should be to build a pious or moral individual and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings, and only 20% believe that the first and most vital goal should be to obtain the right of return to refugees to their 1948 towns and villages, and only 11% believe that the first most vital goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians.
  • The largest percentage (39%) believes that the second most vital Palestinian goal should be to obtain the right of return to refugees to their 1948 towns and villages. By contrast, only 24% believe that the second most vital goal should be to end Israeli occupation in the areas occupied in 1967 and build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital, 22% believe the second most vital goal should be to build a pious or moral individual and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings, and 16% believe that the second and most vital goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians.
  • The most serious problem confronting Palestinian society today is the spread of poverty and unemployment in the eyes of 28% of the public while 26% believe the most serious problem is the absence of national unity due to the split, 24% believe the most serious problem is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities, 10% believe it to be the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings, and 10% believe it to be the corruption in some public institutions.

 

 

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

 

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