Widespread popular anger in West Bank after arrest of journalists and blocking of internet sites - Foundation Office Palestinian Territories
The second quarter of 2012 shows clear improvement in the standing and popularity of Hamas and Ismail Haniyeh, especially in the Gaza Strip, and a decline in the popularity of Fatah and President Abbas. The increased Hamas popularity might be due to the fact that it has allowed the Palestinian election commission to begin voter registration in the Gaza Strip and might reflect optimism about future improvement in the conditions of the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in the Egyptian presidential elections. The decline in the popularity of Fatah and president Abbas comes in light of widespread popular anger with the PA for the arrest of journalists and the blocking of internet sites. It might also reflect public perception of a reluctance on the part of Abbas to form a reconciliation government despite Hamas' decision to allow the election commission to operate in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, it is possible that Abbas' reluctance to go to the UN or take the initiative to break the deadlock in the relationship with Israel might in part explain the increase in public dissatisfaction with his performance and the decrease in the percentage of votes he might receive in a new presidential elections. Findings also indicate that the overwhelming majority of the public opposes the arrest of journalists or the blocking of internet sites and view such measures as harming the Palestinian cause in international public opinion. A majority is also pessimistic about the chances to implement the reconciliation agreement and a very small minority is optimistic about the chances of forming a reconciliation government in days or weeks or organizing parliamentary and presidential elections before the end of the year.
Arrest of Journalists and Blocking of Internet Sites:
- Concerning the arrest of journalists and the blocking of internet sites by the PA that took place during the weeks that preceded the conduct of the poll. 88% oppose and 7% support the arrest of the journalists and the blocking of sites for the views or articles they publish or post.
- 71% say they felt angry upon hearing the news of the arrest of journalists and blocking of internet sites by the PA. 21% say they felt indifferent and 3% say they felt satisfied.
- 67% say that these days they feel as if they are living in an undemocratic system that cracks down on freedoms while only 29% say they feel they live in a democratic system that protects freedoms. 4% say they have no opinion.
- 71% say they are dissatisfied with the fact that presidential and parliamentary elections did not take place last May as originally planned in the reconciliation agreement reached between Fatah and Hamas. 22% say they are satisfied that the election did not take place.
- 60% blame Fatah and Hamas together for the failure to hold elections last May while 13% blame Hamas, 10% blame Fatah, and 7% blame other parties.
- In light of the start of voter registration by the Central Election Commission in the Gaza Strip and the start of consultation to form a reconciliation government, only 35% believe that Fatah and Hamas will succeed in implementing the reconciliation agreement and reunify the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while 57% say they will not succeed.
- In fact, 32% believe no reconciliation government will ever be formed, 47% believe it will be formed but only after a long time, and only 12% believe it will be formed in the next days or weeks.
- Positive evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip rises to 22% while 56% say conditions are bad or very bad.
- Positive evaluation of conditions in the West Bank remains stable at 30% while 37% say conditions are bad or very bad.
- 71% say there is corruption in the PA institutions in the West Bank while only 57% say there is corruption in the institutions of the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip.
- 21% say there is, and 41% say there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank. By contrast, 17% say there is, and 34% say there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip.
- 29% of the Palestinian public say people in the West Bank can criticize the authority in the West Bank without fear. By contrast, 25% of the public say people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear.
- Positive evaluation of the performance of the Haniyeh government stands today at 38% and positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government stands at 36%.
- Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at 49% while 49% say they are dissatisfied with his performance. Three months ago, right after the signing of the Doha agreement, satisfaction with Abbas stood at 55%.
Presidential and Legislative Elections:
- If new presidential elections are held today, and only two were nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 49% and Haniyeh 44% of the vote of those participating. The rate of participation in such election would reach 65%. Three months ago, Abbas received the support of 54% and Haniyeh 42%. In the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives 49% and Haniyeh 45% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 50% and Haniyeh 43%.
- If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 60% and the latter would receive 34% of the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach 72%.
- If the presidential elections were between three: Mahmud Abbas, Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, Barghouti receives the highest percentage (37%) followed by Haniyeh (33%), and Abbas (25%). The rate of participation in this case would reach 75%. This is the first time that we have asked about possible presidential elections with these three candidates.
- If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 70% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 29% say they would vote for Hamas and 40% say they would vote for Fatah, 12% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 19% are undecided. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip stands in this poll at 31% and in the West Bank at 27%. Vote for Fatah in the Gaza Strip stands in this poll at 39% and in the West Bank at 41%. These results indicate a decline in Fatah's popularity in the Gaza Strip by seven percentage points.
- In a question about the favored Fatah candidate to replace Abbas as a president, assuming Abbas would not run, a majority of 53% selected Marwan Barghouti, followed by Saeb Erekat and Abu Mahir Ghnaim (3% each).
Hunger Strike by Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails
- 59% are satisfied and 40% dissatisfied with the level of public participation in the solidarity activities with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.
Most vital Palestinian goals and the main problems confronting Palestinians today:
- 47% believe 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.
Other Topics: Arab Spring and Salafis:
- Arab Spring: 49% believe that Arab revolutions will have a positive impact on the Palestinian cause in the next year or two and 23% believe they will have a negative impact while 25% say they will have no impact, positive or negative.
- A Salafi Party in Palestine: We asked the public about its attitude regarding the possible formation of a Salafi party in Palestine, as the one in Egypt, and asked if it would vote for it. 27% said that it would vote for such a party if established and 63% said they would not vote for one.
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 21-23 June 2012. This poll was conducted during a military escalation and exchange of rocket fire in the Gaza Strip. The period preceding the poll witnessed the ending of the prisoners' hunger strike and the announcement of the elementary results of the Egyptian presidential elections with reports of a victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammad Morsi. The weeks before the conduct of the poll witnessed the signing of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas that allowed the Central Election Commission to begin voter registration in the Gaza Strip and the beginning of consultation to form a reconciliation agreement. It also witnessed the arrest of journalists and the blocking of internet sites by the PA in the West Bank. The journalists were released and sites opened before the conduct of the poll. Finally, this period witnessed the formation of a new government in the West Bank headed by Salam Fayyad. This press release covers Palestinian attitudes regarding the arrest of journalists and blocking of internet sites, reconciliation, prisoners' hunger strike, the performance of the governments of Salam Fayyad and Ismail Haniyeh, the internal balance of power between Fatah and Hamas, and the views of the public on the most vital Palestinian goals and the main problems Palestinians confront today. Total size of the sample is 1200 adults interviewed face to face in 120 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah.