PSR - Survey Research Unit: Poll No. 42 - Press Release


PSR poll 42 - Press release

 

 

19 December 2011  

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (42)

 

With Hamas winning greater public confidence in the aftermath of the prisoner exchange deal, half of the public is optimistic about the implementation of the reconciliation agreement and only 20% expect the formation of a reconciliation government in the near future

 

15-17 December 2011

  

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 15-17 December 2011. Several important developments preceded this poll: a Hamas-Israel prisoner exchange deal, an increase in settlers’ violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, Palestinian submission of a request to join the United Nations, admission of Palestine as a member state at UNESCO, and Abbas-Mish’al meeting and the renewal of Fateh-Hamas reconciliation efforts including the setting of May 2012 as a date for new elections. This press release covers Palestinian attitudes regarding the prisoner exchange deal, reconciliation, the performance of the governments of Salam Fayyad and Ismail Haniyeh, the internal balance of power between Fateh and Hamas, and the views of the public on the most vital Palestinian goals. 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 final quarter of 2011 show that Hamas has won the confidence and respect of the public in the aftermath of the prisoner exchange deal with Israel. About three quarters believe that Hamas came out winning from the deal more than Israel. Moreover 37% say their support for Hamas has increased as a result of the deal while only 10% say their support has decreased. As importantly, confidence in Hamas is expressed in the acceptance of a majority of the public of Hamas’ decision in the deal to concede to Israeli conditions regarding two important issues: the exclusion from the deal of major political figures and the deportation of many released prisoners. Confidence in Hamas is also reflected in the increase in the positive evaluation of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip and in the increased popularity of Ismail Haniyeh, its potential candidate to the presidential elections.  Despite all this however, the percentage of likely vote for Hamas in parliamentary elections, if one is held today, remains unchanged compared to the situation before the exchange deal.

 

Findings also show a limited decline in the popularity of president Mahmud Abbas and reveal a problem Fateh is likely to face in selecting a candidate for the presidency, if Abbas continues to insist on not running. The most popular alternative is Marwan Barghouti. He is also the one most able to win similar levels of support from both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. All other potential Fateh candidates receive very small percentages of support, not exceeding 7%. Moreover, most potential candidates do not have highly different levels of support in the West Bank compared to the Gaza Strip.

 

(1) Hamas-Israel Prisoner Exchange Deal:

  • About three quarters of the public believe Hamas came out winning more than Israel in the prisoner exchange deal while only 22% believe Israel won more out of the deal.
  • 37% say their support for Hamas has increased after the exchange deal while 50% say their support did not change and only 10% say their support decreased.
  • A majority of 55% believe that Hamas was right to agree to Israel’s condition that stipulated that top leaders like Ahmad Sa’dat, Ibrahim Hamid, and Marwan Barghouti would be excluded from the exchange deal while 40% believe that Hamas should not have agreed to this condition.
  • Similarly, a majority of 53% believe that Hamas was right to agree to Israel’s condition that a number of released prisoners would be deported while 43% believe that Hamas should not have agreed to this condition.

 

(2) Domestic Conditions:

  • 26% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good and 47% describe them as bad or very bad. By contrast, 36% describe conditions in the West Bank as good or very good and 30% describe them as bad or very bad.
  • 70% say there is corruption in the PA institutions in the West Bank while only 60% 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.
  • 67% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank and 28% say there is no such freedom in the West Bank. By contrast, 52% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip while 36% say there is no such freedom in the Gaza Strip.
  • 35% say people in the West Bank can criticize the authority in the West Bank without fear. By contrast, 24% say people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear.
  • Perception of safety and security stands at 59% in the West Bank and 69% in the Gaza Strip. These findings show an improvement in the Gaza conditions, probably reflecting perception after the prisoner exchange deal while showing deterioration of conditions in the West Bank, probably in response to an increase in settlers’ violence against West Bankers.
  • Findings show an increase in the positive evaluation of the performance of the Haniyeh government and a decrease in the positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government. Positive evaluation of the performance of the governments of Ismail Haniyeh stands at 41% and Salam Fayyad’s at 44%. Three months ago, these percentages stood at 34% and 53% respectively.
  • Findings show that the percentage of Gazans who say they seek immigration to other countries stands at 43%; in the West Bank, the percentage stands at 24%. Three months ago, these figures stood at 49% and 28% respectively.
  • Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at 60% while 38% say they are dissatisfied with his performance. These figures stood at 52% and 44% respectively. The increase in the satisfaction with the performance of Abbas is probably reflecting public appreciation for his UN speech about three months ago. Satisfaction with the performance of the president stands today at 47% in the Gaza Strip and 67% in the West Bank.

 

(3) Presidency and Legislative Elections:

  • If new presidential elections are held today, and only two were nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 55% and Haniyeh 37% of the vote of those participating. The rate of participation in such election would reach 64%. In the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives 54% and Haniyeh 42% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 56% and Haniyeh 33%. These results indicate a decrease in Abbas’ popularity and an increase in Haniyeh’s compared to the situation three months ago when Abbas received the support of 59% and Haniyeh 34%.
  • If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 64% and the latter would receive 30% of the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach 71%.
  • If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 73% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 29% say they would vote for Hamas and 43% say they would vote for Fateh, 11% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 17% are undecided. These results indicate a decrease of two percentage points in Fateh’s popularity compared to the situation three months ago. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip in this poll stands at 35% and in the West Bank 25%. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip stands at 43% and in the West Bank 44%.
  • In an open question, one without a list to choose from, respondents were asked to propose a candidate for Fateh in the next presidential elections--assuming president Abbas would not run. The largest percentage (40%) favored Marwan Barghouti while 8% favored Salam Fayyad, 5% favored Saeb Erekat, 3% favored Mohammad Dahlan, 2% favored Azzam al Ahmad, and another 2% favored Mustapha Barghouti.
  • When respondents were asked to select favored candidates from a list of names, 54% selected Marwan Barghouti, followed by Erekat (7%), Mahmud Al Aloul (4%), and Azzam al Ahmad (3%). 2% went to each of the following names: Abu Mahir Ghnaim, Nasir al Qidwa, Jibril al Rojoub, and Ahmad Qurie’.

 

(4) Reconciliation: 

  • Now, after the meeting between president Mahmud Abbas and Khalid Mish’al, 50% believe Fateh and Hamas will succeed in implementing the reconciliation agreement and reunify the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while 46% believe they will not succeed.
  • Despite the optimism expressed by half of the public, only 21% expect to see the formation of a reconciliation government or a government of experts within days or weeks. 46% expect one to be formed after a long time and 27% believe one will never be formed.
  • 43% expect that elections for the president and parliament will indeed be held in May 2012 or a little after that while 47% believe elections will not be held around that time.
  • 47% oppose the exclusion of Salam Fayyad from leading the government of reconciliation or experts while 44% agree to his exclusion as Hamas wishes.
  • If a government of reconciliation or experts is formed soon, 72% expect the US government to punish the PA by suspending financial support. A larger percentage (80%) believes Israel too would most likely suspend transfer of custom money to the PA. But a smaller percentage (52%) expecst the EU to suspend financial support when a government of reconciliation or experts is formed.   

 

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

  • 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, 30% believe the first most vital goal should be to obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages, 14% believe that it should be to build a pious or moral individual and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings, and 9% believe that the first and most vital goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians. Three months ago, at the peak of Palestinian UN statehood bid 59% viewed statehood within the 1967 borders as the most vital goal. It is likely that the stalemate in the UN drive to gain statehood and membership has somewhat reduced public interest in it compared to the situation three months ago.

 

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

 

 

 

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