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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 10 and 12 December 2009. The poll was conducted after four major developments that affected public perception during the last four months since our last poll in the second week of August 2009: the decision by President Abbas early in this period to postpone a vote on the Goldstone Report and his subsequent decision to reverse it, Hamas’s decision in October not to sign the reconciliation agreement submitted by Egypt and signed by Fateh, the Hamas decision in late October to prevent the election commission from preparing for elections in the Gaza Strip, and finally, the decision by Abbas in November not to run in the next Palestinian presidential elections. Total size of the sample is 1200 adults interviewed face to face in 120 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. This press release covers domestic Palestinian issues; issues related to the peace process and Israeli-Palestinian relations will be covered in a separate joint Palestinian-Israeli press release. For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel 02-296 4933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Findings of the fourth quarter of 2009 show a limited improvement in the standing of president Mahmud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, but the balance of power between Fateh and Hamas remains as it was four months ago. Moreover, contrary to expectations, the majority of the public does not blame Hamas for the continued split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip or for the failure to hold national elections. In fact, findings show that a majority of Palestinians blames both Fateh and Hamas together for the continued split and a majority supports Hamas’s decision not to hold elections before securing reconciliation. It is likely that the popularity of Fateh and Abbas has deteriorated considerably right after the eruption of the crisis over the Goldstone Report when a vote on the report was postponed by Abbas. But Hamas’s refusal to sign the proposed reconciliation agreement and its subsequent decision to prevent the election commission from conducting preparations for elections in the Gaza Strip redressed the imbalance caused by the Goldstone Report crisis. It is also likely that the minor improvement in Abbas’s standing is the result of his decision not to run in the next elections as findings do not show an increase in satisfaction with his actual performance as president. The improvement in Fayyad’s standing might be the result of the increased public perception of safety and security in the West Bank as evidenced by the current findings.
• 57% support Abbas’s decision not to run in the next presidential elections and 36% oppose it. Findings show that the greater the desire to vote for Abbas in the next elections, the greater the opposition to his decision. A third of the public believes that Abbas’s decision not to run in the next elections is the result of Israel’s settlement policy and Abbas’s loss of confidence in the US administration. A quarter believes the decision reflected Abbas’s disillusionment with Arab support for him and his policies while 22% believe the decision was taken due to the criticism of Abbas’s handling of the Goldstone affair, and 12% believe it was due to Hamas’s refusal to sign the reconciliation agreement. A majority of 58% believes Abbas will withdraw his decision and will eventually run in the next elections, but 21% believe that he will insist on it and might in fact submit his resignation.
• Findings show that a quarter of the public believes that Hamas is responsible for the failure to hold elections on time and 11% believe Fateh is the one responsible for that. But the largest percentage, 30%, blames Israel and 9% blame the election commission. A majority of 58% supports Hamas’s position that national elections can only take place after reconciliation and 39% oppose it. Among those who oppose Hamas’s position, 54% support holding elections even if only in the West Bank and 34% oppose that. In any case, 57% believe that the president will lose his legitimacy in January 2010 and an identical percentage believes that the Palestinian Legislative Council will lose its legitimacy at that same time.
• Findings show that 61% of the public believe that Fateh and Hamas together are responsible for the continued split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while 17% believe that Hamas is responsible for that and 12% believe Fateh is responsible. The largest percentage (61%) views the unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the top most important Palestinian priority today, 22% believe the top priority is the maintenance of calm and the opening of border crossings, and 16% believe the top priority is the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip. In this regard, if Hamas wins the next elections, 48% believe this outcome would consolidate separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while 19% believe it would strengthen unity. But if Fateh wins the next elections, only 27% believe this would consolidate separation and 34% believe it would strengthen unity.
• If new presidential elections are held today, Abbas would receive the vote of 54% of the voters (compared to 52% last August) and Haniyeh would receive 38% (the same as in last August). Only 62% of eligible voters would participate in the presidential elections. Abbas’s popularity stands at 55% in the West Bank and 52% in the Gaza Strip while Haniyeh’s popularity stands at 36% in the West Bank and 43% in the Gaza Strip. Satisfaction with the performance of Abbas remains unchanged as it was four months ago (48%) and dissatisfaction stands at 49%. If presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 67% (compared to 62% last August) and the latter would receive 28% (compared to 31% last August). Participation in presidential elections would be much higher, reaching 73%, if Barghouti and Haniyeh, rather than Abbas and Haniyeh, were the contenders. Most popular figures selected by the public as possible vice president are Marwan Barghouti (selected by 30% of the public), Ismail Haniyeh (18%), Mustafa Barghouti and Salam Fayyad (13% each), and Saeb Erekat (7%). These findings indicate an improvement in the standing of Mustafa Barghouti, Fayyad, and Erekat compared to our findings four months ago.
• If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 72% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 43% say they would vote for Fateh and 27% say they would vote for Hamas. These results are almost the same as those we found four months ago. Fateh’s popularity in the West Bank stands at 41% compared to 46% in the Gaza Strip and Hamas’s popularity stands at 23% in the West Bank compared to 34% in the Gaza Strip. All other factions and lists receive 14% of the vote and 17% remain undecided.
• In the West Bank, perception of personal and family safety and security continues to improve standing today at 63%, compared to 58% four months ago. In the Gaza Strip, perception of safety and security stands today at 65% compared to 63% four months ago. Despite this improvement, 21% of West Bankers and 34% of Gazans say that political, security, and economic conditions force them to seek immigration to other countries.
• Satisfaction with the performance of the Haniyeh government reaches 34% (30% in the West Bank and 42% in the Gaza Strip) and satisfaction with the performance of Salam Fayyad’s government stands at 40% (42% in the West Bank and 36% in the Gaza Strip). 36% give a positive evaluation to the status of democracy and human rights in the West Bank under Fayyad’s government and 25% give a positive evaluation to the status of democracy and human rights in the Gaza Strip under Haniyeh’s government. Moreover, 30% believe Fayyad’s government is the legitimate one while 26% believe that Haniyeh’s government is the legitimate one. Four months ago, Fayyad’s government was seen legitimate by 28% and Haniyeh’s by 28%.