Palestinians overwhelmingly support Syrian revolution
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PA's financial crisis, the exchange of rockets with Israel, pessimism about reconciliation, and the slowdown in the UN bid leave a negative impact on the governments of Fayyad and Haniyeh, Fatah and Hamas, and the status of president Abbas: all come out losers.
The first quarter of 2012 brings bad news to the governments of Fayyad and Haniyeh, to Fatah and Hamas, and to president Abbas. Findings show a significant drop in the positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government, particularly in the West Bank. The drop is probably due to anticipated fallout from the PA's financial crisis and in response to government talk about a tax increase and/or a reduction in the size of the public sector, two measures clearly rejected, as findings show, by a majority of respondents. The financial crisis, the slowdown in the UN bid, and pessimism about the chances for reconciliation might also be some of the factors behind the decline in the popularity of Fatah and the dissatisfaction with Abbas, especially in the West Bank. Findings also indicate a significant decline in the popularity of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and a decrease in the positive evaluation of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, probably due to Hamas' behavior, standing on the sideline, during Gaza's rocket war with Israel and due to the prevailing pessimism about the chances for reconciliation, particularly given the outspoken criticism of the Doha agreement by some of Hamas' Gaza leaders at a time when the agreement receives massive public support from all sectors of the public. Perhaps the only positive sign for Hamas is the significant increase in the popularity of Ismail Haniyeh in the West Bank, which might have come as a result of his visibility lately during his travels to Arab and Islamic countries and as a result of his public support for the popular revolt in Syria, a revolt that receives the overwhelming support of the Palestinian public. It is worth noting in this context that a majority of the public does not believe that Hamas supports the Syrian revolt or simply does not know Hamas' real position regarding that revolt.
PA's Financial Crisis:
- PSR asked the public about its view on how to deal with the financial crisis facing the PA, a crisis that might constrain its ability to pay salaries: 48% opposed solving PA's financial deficit by increasing taxes or forcing some public sector employees to take early retirement. Only 9% came in favor of a tax increase and 29% came in favor of the early retirement solution.
- When we asked the public for alternative solutions to the financial crisis, a majority of 52% selected the option of returning to negotiations with Israel in order to obtain greater international financial support while 27% selected the option of dissolving the PA altogether. It is worth noting that about half of those who favor return to negotiations oppose unconditional return that does not insure an Israeli settlement freeze and an acceptance of the 1967 borders.
The Doha Agreement and Reconciliation:
- An overwhelming majority of 84% supports the Doha Agreement signed by Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshal and calling for the formation of a reconciliation government to be headed by Abbas and to be tasked with conducting elections and starting Gaza reconstruction. 12% oppose the agreement. Findings show that 93% of Fatah supporters and 81% of Hamas supporters are in favor of the Doha Agreement.
- The public is split over the chances for reconciliation in the aftermath of the Doha Agreement with 46% expecting the two sides to succeed in implementing the agreement and 49% expecting them to fail. Moreover, only 30% believe that Gaza and West Bank parliamentary and presidential elections will take place as scheduled in May or a little after that, 57% believe they will not take place, and 13% do not know.
- 13% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good and 70% describe them as bad or very bad. By contrast, 31% describe conditions in the West Bank as good or very good and 36% describe them as bad or very bad.
- 73% say there is corruption in the PA institutions in the West Bank while only 62% say there is corruption in the institutions of the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip.
- 66% of the public say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank and 31% say there is no such freedom in the West Bank. By contrast, 50% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip while 40% say there is no such freedom in the Gaza Strip.
- Positive evaluation of the performance of the Haniyeh government stands today at 36% and positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government stands at 34%.
Presidency and Legislative Elections:
- If new presidential elections are held today, and only two were nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 54% and Haniyeh 42% of the vote of those participating. In the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives 55% and Haniyeh 40% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 53% and Haniyeh 42%. These results indicate a considerable increase in Haniyeh's popularity in the West Bank.
- If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 27% would vote for Hamas and 42% say they would vote for Fatah.
- In a question about the favored Fatah candidate to replace Abbas as a president, assuming Abbas would not run, a majority of 55% selected Marwan Barghouti, followed by Saeb Erekat, Nasir al Qidwa, and Mahmud al Aloul (3% each).
Main problems confronting Palestinians today:
- The most serious problem confronting Palestinian society today is the spread of poverty and unemployment in the eyes of 28% of the public while 25% believes the most serious problem is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities, 23% say it is the absence of national unity due to the West Bank-Gaza Strip split.
The Syrian Popular Revolt and Hamas' and Hezbollah's attitudes:
- Findings show that the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian public (83%) supports the Syrian demonstrators seeking to bring down the Syrian regime led by president Assad.
PA's financial crisis, the exchange of rockets with Israel, pessimism about reconciliation, and the slowdown in the UN bid leave a negative impact on the governments of Fayyad and Haniyeh, Fatah and Hamas, and the status of president Abbas: all come out losers.But only 42% of the public believe that Hamas supports the Syrian demonstrators while 23% believe the movement supports the Assad regime.
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 March 2012. This poll was conducted immediately after a ceasefire went into effect in the Gaza Strip after more than 20 people were killed in Israeli missile attacks that came in response to rocket attacks launched from Gaza by resistance forces in retaliation for an Israeli assassination of the top commander of the Popular Resistance Committees. The period preceding the poll also witnessed talks by the Fayyad government about increasing taxes. It also witnessed the signing of the Doha agreement between Khaled Meshal and Mahmoud Abbas for the formation of a reconciliation government to be headed by Abbas. Ismail Haniyeh declared from Cairo his support for the Syrian revolt in what seemed to be the first statement by a Hamas leader on the subject. Security conditions in the West Bank somewhat deteriorated as a result of settlers' attacks or due to Israeli measures, such as setting more checkpoints, that came in response to the escalation in the Gaza Strip. 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 email@example.com.
- This survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah.
Palestinian Territories, April 2, 2012