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Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (40)

Fateh-Hamas reconciliation agreement improves the standing of Hamas, but the public prefers Fayyad as prime minister to Hamas’ candidate and wants the new government to follow Abbas’ and the PLO’s peace policy rather than Hamas’

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 June 2011. The poll was conducted after the signing of the reconciliation agreement between Fateh and Hamas and during the continued turmoil and revolt in the Arab World including the popular uprisings in Syria, Yemen and Libya. This press release covers Palestinian 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 the reconciliation agreement, and the views of the public on the most vital Palestinian goals and the most serious problems confronting Palestinians today.

Main Findings:

Findings of the second quarter of 2011 show that the reconciliation agreement between Fateh and Hamas has triggered important changes in public attitudes and perceptions. Indeed, the agreement has removed, almost completely, the issue of the split between West Bank and the Gaza Strip from the list of critical problems in the minds of the public. But the fading of the problem of the split led to the emergence of a new problem: the concern that the agreement, once implemented, and a majority believes that it will indeed be implemented, it will bring back international political and financial sanctions and boycott. For this reason, and while findings show that Hamas has benefited considerably from signing the agreement, a clear majority of the public wants the new Palestinian government of specialists, once formed, to implement the president’s and the PLO’s peace program and policy rather than that of Hamas. Most importantly, the largest percentage wants Salam Fayyad, Fateh’s candidate, to be the next prime minister. Indeed, only a small minority wants Jamal Khodari, Hamas’ candidate, to be the next prime minister. Perhaps the public believes that if Fayyad stays as prime minister and if he continues to implement Abbas’s peace agenda and policies, the threat of boycott and sanctions would diminish or disappear.

The future of the reconciliation agreement:

  • A majority of 59% believes that Fateh and Hamas will succeed in implementing the reconciliation agreement and in unifying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while 37% believe they will fail.
  • A majority of 55% expects the return of international boycott and financial sanctions after the formation of a new reconciliation government and 37% do not expect that.
  • In a choice between Fateh’s candidate, Salam Fayyad, and Hamas’ candidate, Jamal Khodari, 45% of the public favors the former and only 22% favor the latter. 12% favor other candidates and 21% remain undecided.
  • Moreover, a majority of 61% wants the new government of reconciliation to follow the peace policies and agendas of President Abbas and the PLO rather than Hamas’. Only 18% want the new government to follow the peace policy and agenda of Hamas.
  • Half of the public (50%) says that both Fateh and Hamas came out winners from the reconciliation agreement, 12% say Hamas came out the winner, 11% say Fateh came out the winner, and 20% say neither came out a winner.

Domestic Conditions

  • 71% 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.
  • 61% 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, 47% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip while 41% say there is no such freedom in the Gaza Strip.
  • Perception of safety and security stands at 56% in the West Bank and 80% in the Gaza Strip. This finding indicates a large increase in the perception of safety and security in the Gaza Strip compared to March 2011 when it stood at 67%. The difference may reflect a perception change in light of the reconciliation agreement.
  • Positive evaluation of the performance of the governments of Ismail Haniyeh stands at 39% and Salam Fayyad’s at 43%. Three months ago, these percentages stood at 31% and 39% respectively.
  • Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at 52% while 45% say they are dissatisfied with his performance.

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 38% of the vote of those participating.
  • If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 61% and the latter would receive 33% of the participants’ votes.
  • 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 (22%), Salam Fayyad (17%) Mustafa Barghouti (9%) and Saeb Erekat (4%).
  • 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, 28% say they would vote for Hamas and 42% say they would vote for Fateh, 10% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 19% are undecided.

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, 26% believe the first most vital goal should be to obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages, 15% believe that it should be to build a pious or moral individual and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings, and 11% believe that the first and most vital goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians.
  • The largest percentage (40%) believes that the second most vital Palestinian goal should be to obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages. 25% believe that the second 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, 19% believe that the second goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians, and 16% 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.
  • The most serious problem confronting Palestinian society today is the spread of poverty and unemployment in the eyes of 36% of the public while 30% believe that it is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities, 18% believe it to be the corruption in some public institutions, and 11% believe it to be the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings. Only 2% mentioned the absence of national unity due to the West Bank-Gaza Strip split which was mentioned by 28% in our previous poll in March 2011. It is clear that the signing of the reconciliation agreement and the belief of the majority that the agreement will indeed be implemented has removed this issue from among the list of main problems as perceived by the public.

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 June 2011. Total size of the sample is 1200 adults interviewed face to face in 120 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 pcpsr@pcpsr.org. This poll was produced with support from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Ramallah.

Contact

Susanna Vogt

Referentin (derzeit abwesend)

susanna.vogt@kas.de
PSR KAS