Palestinians: Conditions in Gaza better than in the West Bank - Foundation Office Palestinian Territories
This poll was conducted during a period that witnessed significant price hikes, particularly fuel prices, and right after the eruption of widespread protests in the West Bank that started in early September but quieted down after the Fayyad government restored the older prices of diesel and gas. In the Gaza Strip, a young unemployed man burned himself but no mass protests took place. The same period witnessed incidents of lawlessness in northern West Bank, including the assassination of a colonel in the Preventive Security force in Jenin. Preparation for local elections continued in the West Bank while reconciliation efforts stalemated with Abbas announcing that no reconciliation government will be formed until Hamas allowed the Election Commission to resume its work in the Gaza Strip and agreed to hold general elections, two conditions that Hamas rejected. Under these conditions, Fayyad proposed holding parliamentary elections in the West Bank. During this period, the PLO announced that it intends to seek UN recognition of Palestine as a non member state but did not specify a date for the request. The period witnessed continued settlers' violence against Palestinians and threats by Israeli foreign minister against Abbas. But with the end of Ramadan, Israeli Civil Administration issued more than one hundred thousand permits allowing Palestinians from the West Bank to visit Jerusalem and Israel. It is worth noting that president Abbas went into a visit to India during the worst days of West Bank mass protests. This press release covers Palestinian attitudes regarding West Bank protests, general and local elections, reconciliation, public evaluation of 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 and the main problems Palestinians confront today.
Main Findings: Bad news for the PA in the West Bank
The third quarter of 2012 brings bad news for the PA in the West Bank. Positive evaluation of West Bank conditions drops significantly. Similarly, positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government drops sharply. Moreover, Fateh's popularity drops and satisfaction with the performance of president Abbas decreases. By contrast, positive evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip rises. Indeed, for the first time since the split in 2007, a larger percentage of Palestinians give more positive evaluation to conditions in the Gaza Strip than to conditions in the West Bank. It is clear that the wave of price hikes and the decisions taken by the Fayyad government, in raising prices of fuel, are responsible for this sudden shift in public attitudes and evaluations. Indeed, findings show that two thirds of the public say that the current difficult economic situation forces them to demonstrate and protest while more than three quarters of the public expect the current wave of protests to continue and escalate. More than half of the public (55%) expect the protests to spread into the Gaza Strip.
In the midst of this environment, pessimism regarding reconciliation increases with the percentage of those expecting the split to become permanent doubling in 18 months, since March 2011. Findings also show that two-thirds reject the idea of holding legislative elections in the West Bank only, believing that such elections would further consolidate the split. But a majority of Palestinians accept president Abbas' position that conditions reconciliation on a Hamas consent to holding elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Price Hikes and Popular Protests: More than three quarters expect the West Bank protests to escalate
- More than three quarters (76%) expect the West Bank protests to continue and escalate while 22% expect them to stop. Moreover, a majority of 55% expects the protests to spread into the Gaza Strip and 39% do not expect that.
- 66% say the price hikes and the inability to provide for a better life force them to take part in the protests and 33% say they do not wish to take part in these protests.
- 51% of the public is convinced that the current financial crisis of the PA is real while 44% think it is manufactured.
- The largest percentage (37%) believe that the international financial crisis and the inability of the donor countries to fulfill their obligations to the PA is the reason behind the financial crisis of the PA while 28% say the reason is the cessation of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and 16% say the reason behind the crisis is the revolts in the Arab World and the Arab preoccupation with their own problems.
- 51% oppose increasing taxes or forcing a number of public sector employees into early retirement as means of resolving the financial crisis of the PA, while 30% support early retirement, 8% support a tax increase, and 10% support both, the early retirement and the tax increase.
- By contrast, 44% believe that a return to negotiations would resolve the financial crisis, as donor assistance would increase, while 34% believe that dissolving the PA resolves its financial crisis.
- A majority of 53% believes that the PA will continue to be able to pay salaries during next year while 37% believe the PA will not be able to do so.
Reconciliation: 42 percent believe that unity will never be restored
- 58% agree and 35% disagree with Abbas' position that the formation of a reconciliation government will come only after Hamas allows the Election Commission to resume work in the Gaza Strip and to set a date for elections.
- On the other hand, only 28% support and 66% oppose Fayyad's proposal to hold legislative elections in the West Bank only.
- Indeed, 63% believe that holding legislative elections in the West Bank only would lead to the consolidation of the West Bank-Gaza Strip split while only 10% believe it will increase the chances for reconciliation.
- In light of the stalemate in the Fateh-Hamas reconciliation efforts, the largest percentage (42%) believes that unity will never be restored and that two separate entities will be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; 14% believe that unity will be restored soon, and 40% believe unity will be restored but only after a long time. A year and a half ago, in March 2011, only 21% said unity will not be restored and two separate entities will be established.
Domestic Conditions: Conditions in the Gaza Strip better than in the West Bank
- Positive evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip rises from 22% to 25% while 52% say conditions are bad or very bad.
- Positive evaluation of conditions in the West Bank drops significantly from 30% last June to 19% in this poll. Today, 60% say conditions in the West Bank are bad or very bad. Indeed, only 15% of West Bankers describe conditions in the West Bank today as good or very good. It is worth noting that this is the first time since the split in 2007 that more Palestinians evaluate conditions in the Gaza Strip as better than conditions in the West Bank.
- 79% say there is corruption in the PA institutions in the West Bank while only 63% say there is corruption in the institutions of the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip.
- 24% say there is, and 42% say there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank. By contrast, 17% say there is, and 35% say there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip.
- 42% of the Palestinian public say people in the West Bank can criticize the authority in the West Bank without fear. By contrast, 26% of the public say people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear. These results indicate a significant increase in the perception of freedom to criticize authorities in the West Bank three months ago when it stood at 29%.
- Perception of safety and security in the West Bank reaches 56% and in the Gaza Strip 64%. Three months ago these percentages stood at 58% in the Gaza Strip and 55% in the West Bank.
- Findings show that the percentage of Gazans who say they seek immigration to other countries stands at 42%; in the West Bank, the percentage stands at 29%.
- Positive evaluation of the performance of the Haniyeh government stands today at 35% and positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government stands at 22%. Three months ago, positive evaluation stood at 36% for the performance of Fayyad and 38% for the performance of Haniyeh.
- Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at 46% while 50% say they are dissatisfied with his performance. Three months ago, satisfaction with Abbas stood at 49%.
Presidency, Legislative, and Local Elections: Only 38 percent believe that local elections will take place next month
- If new presidential elections are held today, and only two were nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 51% and Haniyeh 40% of the vote of those participating. The rate of participation in such elections would reach 55%. Three months ago, Abbas received the support of 49% and Haniyeh 44%. In the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives 52% and Haniyeh 40% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 49% and Haniyeh 39%.
- If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 61% and the latter would receive 32% of the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach 66%.
- If the presidential elections were between three: Mahmud Abbas, Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, Barghouti receives the highest percentage (45%) followed by Haniyeh (29%), and Abbas (20%). The rate of participation in this case would reach 69%. In our previous poll last June, Barghouti received 37%, Haniyeh 33%, and Abbas 25%.
- 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 37% say they would vote for Fateh, 13% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 23% are undecided. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip stands in this poll at 31% and in the West Bank at 25%. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip stands in this poll at 40% and in the West Bank at 35%. These results indicate a decline in Fateh's popularity in the West Bank by six percentage points and in Hamas' popularity in the West Bank by two percentage points.
- Only 38% of the public believe that local elections, scheduled to take place next month in the West Bank, will indeed take place as scheduled while 50% say it will not take place on the set date.
- 47% of West Bankers say they will participate in the upcoming local elections and 50% say they will not participate.
- 44% of the public believe that local elections, set to take place next month, will not be fair and an equal percentage (44%) believes it will be fair.
Most vital Palestinian goals and the main problems confronting Palestinians today:
- 44% 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, 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 most serious problem confronting Palestinian society today is the spread of poverty and unemployment in the eyes of 32% of the public while 23% believe the most serious problem is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities, 19% say it is the absence of national unity due to the West Bank-Gaza Strip split, 15% believe the most serious problem is corruption in some public institutions, and 9% believe it is the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings.
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 13-15 September 2012. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah.