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Monday, March 17, 2008
PSR poll No. 27 - (13-15 March 2008) Palestinian support for Fatah over Hamas declines

17 March 2008

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (27)
With Increased Dissatisfaction with the Performance of Mahmud Abbas and
with the Government of Ismail Haniyeh Seen as Having Greater Legitimacy and
Better Performance than the Government of Salam Fayyad, Hamas's and Haniyeh's
Popularity Increase and Fateh's and Abbas's Decrease
13-15 March 2008

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 and 15 March 2008. This period witnessed a limited lull that
prevailed between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the
Israeli incursion into Gaza in early March that left more than 130
Palestinians dead and after the bombing attack in West Jerusalem that led to
the death of 8 Israeli religious students. 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 pcpsr@pcpsr.org.

Main Findings:

Findings indicate that a major shift, in Hamas's favor, had occurred during
the last three months with about 10% of the population shifting their
attitudes and perceptions. The change included increased popularity of Hamas
and its leadership, increased support for its positions and legitimacy, and
greater satisfaction with its performance. These changes might have been the
result of several political developments starting with the breaching of the
Rafah border with Egypt during the last week of January and first week of
February, followed by the Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip
leading to a large number of Palestinian causalities and an increase in the
number of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns such as
Sderot and Ashkelon, the two suicide attacks in Dimona and Jerusalem leading
to the death of nine Israelis, and ending with the failure of the Annapolis
process in positively affecting daily life of Palestinians in the West Bank,
in stopping Israeli settlement activities, or in producing progress in final
status negotiations. These developments managed to present Hamas as
successful in breaking the siege and as a victim of Israeli attacks. These
also presented Palestinian President Abbas and his Fateh faction as
impotent, unable to change the bitter reality in the West Bank or ending
Israeli occupation through diplomacy.

The gap between the standing of Fateh compared to the standing of Hamas
decreases significantly in three months from 18 percentage points to 7. If
new parliamentary elections were to take place today, Hamas would receive
35%, Fateh 42%, other electoral lists combined 12%, and 11% remain
undecided. This represents a significant increase in Hamas's popularity
compared to December 2007 when it received 31% compared to 49% to Fateh, 10%
to other lists and 11% undecided. Hamas's popularity increased to 34% during
the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt during the last week of January
while Fateh's popularity dropped to 46%. Hamas is more popular in the Gaza
Strip reaching 40% compared to 31% in the West Bank. Fateh's popularity is
slightly greater in the Gaza Strip, reaching 43% compared to 41% in the West

The gap between the standing of Abbas compared to the standing of Haniyeh
decreases significantly in three months from 19 percentage points to almost
zero. If new presidential elections were to take place today, Mahmud Abbas
and Ismail Haniyeh would receive almost equal number of votes, 46% for Abbas
and 47% for Haniyeh. Abbas's popularity stood at 56% and Haniyeh's at 37%
last December. During the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt,
Abbas's popularity dropped to 51% and Haniyeh's increased to 43%. Haniyeh's
popularity today is the highest ever registered since Hamas's electoral
victory in January 2006. However, if the competition was between Marwan
Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former would receive 57% and the latter 38%.
Moreover, the percentage of non-participation would decrease from 34% (if
the competition was between Abbas and Haniyeh) to 24% (if the competition
was between Barghouti and Haniyeh).

Findings show continued decrease in the level of satisfaction with the
performance of Abbas and a greater positive evaluation for the performance
of Haniyeh's government over the performance of Fayyad's government.
Satisfaction with the performance of Abbas stands today at 41% and
dissatisfaction at 56%. Satisfaction with Abbas's performance stood at 50%
last December and 46% during the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt.
Moreover, only 30% say that the performance of the Fayyad government is good
or very good and 42% say it is bad or very bad. By contrast, 39% say the
performance of the Haniyeh's government is good or very good and only 34%
say it is bad or very bad.

Findings show depreciation in the legitimacy of Fayyad's government and a
significant rise in public perception of the legitimacy of Haniyeh's
government. 49% say Haniyeh should stay in office as Prime Minister while
45% say he should not. Last September only 40% said Haniyeh should stay as
prime minister. By contrast, today only 38% say Fayyad's government should
stay in office and 55% say it should not. Support for Fayyad's government
stood at 49% last September. Similarly, 34% say Haniyeh's government is the
legitimate Palestinian government and only 29% say Fayyad's government is
the legitimate one. 9% say both governments are legitimate and 24% say both
are illegitimate. It is noticeable that Haniyeh's government receives
greater public legitimacy both in the West Bank (32% to Haniyeh's compared
to 26% to Fayyad's) and the Gaza Strip (37% to Haniyeh's compared to 34% to
Fayyad's). It is also worth mentioning that this is the first time that
Haniyeh's government has received greater public legitimacy than Fayyad's.
Last December, belief that Fayyad's government was legitimate stood at 38%
and belief that Haniyeh's government was legitimate stood at 30%.

Despite the fact that the majority continues to reject Hamas's June 2007
violent takeover of the Gaza Strip, only a small minority believes that
Hamas alone is responsible for the continued political split between the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Rejection of Hamas's violent takeover stands
today at 68% and acceptance of the takeover at 26%. Rejection of the
takeover stood at 73% last September. Acceptance of Hamas's takeover
increases in the Gaza Strip reaching 33% compared to 23% in the West Bank.
However, only 17% believe that Hamas alone is responsible for the continued
split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and in fact 21% say Fateh
alone is responsible for the continued split. A majority of 54% believes
that both Hamas and Fateh are responsible for the continued split. The
tendency to avoid blaming Hamas alone for the continuation of the split
reflects a change in public perception regarding the positions of the two
factions regarding return to dialogue as an exit from the current crisis.
Support for Fateh's and Abbas's position, which demands a return to the
status quo ante as a precondition to dialogue drops from 46% last September
to 39% in this poll. Support for Hamas's position, which calls for
unconditional dialogue, increases from 27% to 37% during the same period.

Perception of personal and family security and safety diminishes
considerably in the West Bank declining from 44% last December to 32% in
this poll. Perception of security and safety improved greatly in the West
Bank in December 2007 compared to September when it stood at 35%. In the
Gaza Strip, perceptions of personal and family security and safety diminish
somewhat from 52% to 46% between December 2007 and March 2008.
This PSR survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer
Stiftung in Ramallah

End of press release

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