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Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Poll of Palestinians: 65% top 2 goals return of refugees to inside

In order to end the split, 33% support and 61% oppose a proposal whereby
president Abbas would accept Hamas conditions for unification even if such a
step would lead to the return of international sanctions and boycott.
Findings show that 69% view such a step by the president as posing a threat
to their own interests and those of the Palestinian people. A majority of
52% believe the chances for the president to take such a step are small or
very small while 42% believe chances are high or medium.

PSR Poll No. 39 - Press release (March 17-19)

22 March 2011

PRESS RELEASE

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (39)

17-19 March 2011

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 17-19 March 2011. The poll was conducted during a period of turmoil
and revolt in the Arab World leading to regime change in Egypt and Tunisia.
Moreover, the Palestinian areas witnessed demonstrations demanding end of
the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Before that, al Jazeera
satellite TV news station released leaked Palestinian documents pertaining
to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. These documents were leaked from the
PLO negotiations department. This press release covers issues related to the
events in the Arab World, the leaks on al Jazeera, 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 reconciliation and reunification, and the views of the public on the most
vital Palestinian goals and the most serious problems confronting
Palestinians today. 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 pcpsr@pcpsr.org.

Main Findings:

Findings of the first quarter of 2010 highlight a number of internal
developments that came in response to external events. Two of the most
significant events of the period under consideration were the publication of
PLO documents related to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and the eruption
of youth demonstration in the Arab World demanding regime change in their
countries. Palestinians were affected differently by these events. For
example, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its leadership were negatively
affected by al Jazeera leaks as findings show a decrease in support for
Fateh and a similar decrease in the level of satisfaction with the
performance of president Mahmud Abbas. Several factors led to this outcome:
al Jazeera remains the most watched TV news station in the Palestinian areas
and the most credible one. While the PA leadership in the West Bank defended
itself by accusing al Jazeera of conspiring against it, a large majority of
Palestinians believed that al Jazeera goal was to seek the truth and not to
conspire against the PA. Moreover, in responding to the leaks, the PA’s case
remained unconvincing in the eyes of a large majority of Palestinians. Above
all else, and based on the leaks, half of the public concluded that the PA’s
negotiating position was not committed to the vital goals and interests of
the Palestinian people.

By contrast, the events in the Arab World and particularly the youth
demonstrations seem to pose a threat to Hamas in the Gaza Strip rather than
to Fateh in the West Bank. For example, findings show that two thirds of
Gazans believe that there is a need for demonstrations in the Gaza Strip
demanding regime change in the Strip. More seriously for Hamas, half of
Gazans indicate that they might participate in such demonstrations. In the
West Bank, the picture is different: only one third believes there is a need
to demonstrate and demand West Bank regime change and only one quarter
indicate willingness to participate in such demonstrations.

Finally, findings show that if demonstrations were to erupt in the Gaza
Strip, demands and slogans will focus not only on ending the West Bank-Gaza
Strip split, but also on the absence of freedoms. By contrast, if
demonstrations erupt in the West Bank, demands and slogans will focus on the
two issues of ending the split and ending occupation.

(1) Youth demonstrations in the Arab World and in Palestine:

An overwhelming majority of 92% sympathizes with the demonstrators in Arab
countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen; 7% do not sympathize with the
Arab demonstrators.
41% believe that the first basic demand of the demonstrators in Egypt is to
end the state of poverty and unemployment, 38% believe it is freedom from
oppression of the ruling regime, 11% believe it is to end corruption, 5%
believe it is to replace the Egyptian regime with an Islamist one, and 3%
believe the demonstrators want to express opposition to Egypts pro Western
policies.

About two thirds (64%) expect the developments in the Arab World to have a
positive impact on Palestinian conditions, 17% believe they will have a
negative impact, and 15% believe they will have no impact.

Two thirds (66%) expect the fall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt to lead to
permanent opening of the Rafah international crossing with Egypt and 27% do
not expect that.

But a majority of 54% believes the chances for the establishment of a
Palestinian state next to the state of Israel in the next five years will
not change as a result of the developments in the Arab World, 21% believe
such chances will increase and 23% believe the chances will decrease.

47% of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip believe that
there is a need for similar demonstrations in the West Bank demanding regime
change and 50% believe no need exists. However, among West Bankers, only 36%
believe there should be demonstrations demanding West Bank regime change.

By contrast, 52% of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
believe there is a need for similar demonstrations in the Gaza Strip
demanding regime change in that area and 40% believe no need exists.
However, among Gazans, belief in the need for regime-change demonstrations
in the Gaza Strip increases to reach 67%.

When asked about their possible participation in such regime-change
demonstrations in their respective areas, major differences emerged between
West Bankers and Gazans: while 50% of Gazans are ready to participate in
demonstrations to demand regime change in the Gaza Strip, only 24% of West
Bankers are ready to participate in demonstrations demanding regime change
in PA in the West Bank.

When asked about the most preferred slogan to raise in Palestinian
demonstrations, a majority of 51% opted for “people want to end the split,”
followed by “people want to end occupation” (24%), and “people want to end
corruption” (14%). Four other slogans received 2% each: “people want to end
negotiations,” “people want to end Oslo,” “people want an end to security
coordination,” and “people want to return to the intifada.”

(2) Al Jazeera Publishes leaked PLO negotiations’ documents:

78% say they have seen or heard, on al Jazeera or other media outlets, about
leaked documents published by al Jazeera news TV channel.

79% believe in the truthfulness of all or some of what has been published by
al Jazeera regarding concessions made by Palestinian negotiators and 19% do
not believe any of it.

About half (49%) believes that the Palestinian negotiating position, as
revealed by al Jazeera, was not committed to vital Palestinian goals and
interests and 44% believe it has been committed to vital goals and
interests.

A majority of 59% believes that the goal of al Jazeera in publishing the
leaked documents was to uncover the truth, but 36% believe the aim was to
conspire against the Palestinian leadership.

A majority of 62% believes that the PA response to al Jazeera leaks of the
negotiations’ documents was not convincing and 33% believe it was
convincing.

(3) Domestic Conditions:

21% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good and 56%
describe them as bad or very bad. In our last poll, three months ago, in
December 2010, 17% described conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very
good and 62% said they were bad or very bad. By contrast, 33% describe
conditions in the West Bank as good or very good and 33% describe them as
bad or very bad. Three months ago, these percentages stood at 35% and 31%
respectively.

70% say there is corruption in the PA institutions in the West Bank while
only 59% 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.

65% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank
and 31% say there is no such freedom in the West Bank. By contrast, 46% say
there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip while
42% say there is no such freedom in the Gaza Strip.

33% say people in the West Bank can criticize the authority in the West Bank
without fear. By contrast, only 19% say people in the Gaza Strip can
criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear. These findings reflect an
improvement in the situation in the West Bank and lack of change in the Gaza
Strip. Since the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in June
2007, these percentages have witnessed gradual and significant decrease. As
the table below shows, belief that people can criticize the authorities in
the West Bank without fear stood at 56% while 52% believed that people can
criticize the authorities without fear in the Gaza Strip.

Perception of safety and security stands at 54% in the West Bank and 67% in
the Gaza Strip.

Positive evaluation of the performance of the governments of Ismail Haniyeh
stands at 31% and Salam Fayyad’s at 39%. Three months ago, these percentages
stood at 36% and 43% respectively.

Findings show that the percentage of Gazans who say that political,
security, and economic conditions force them to seek immigration to other
countries stands at 37%; in the West Bank, the percentage stands at 21%.

Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at
46% while 51% say they are dissatisfied with his performance. These
percentages reflect a decrease in the level of satisfaction with the
performance of the president, which stood at 50% three months ago while the
level of dissatisfaction stood at 45%. Satisfaction with the performance of
the president stands at 39% in the Gaza Strip and 51% in the West Bank.

23% say the government of Haniyeh is the legitimate Palestinian government
and 25% say the Fayyad government is the legitimate one. 37% say both
governments are illegitimate. These results indicate a decrease in the
percentage of those who view the Fayyad government as legitimate.

(4) West Bank-Gaza Strip split and how to end it:

A majority of 52% opposes and 43% support Salam Fayyads proposal to end the
West Bank-Gaza Strip split by an immediate unification of the two areas, the
formation of a national unity government under the premiership of a prime
minister acceptable to Fateh and Hamas, and the maintenance of the status
quo regarding security conditions in the Gaza Strip (under Hamas’s control)
and the West Bank (under Fateh).

Fateh and Hamas together are responsible for the continuation of the split
as seen by 62% of the public, but 15% blame Hamas alone and 15% blame Fateh
alone. But when asked about the future of the split if Hamas won new
presidential and parliamentary elections, 46% said it would be consolidated,
but in a scenario in which Fateh would win such elections, only 25% said the
split would, as a result, be consolidated.

After the events in Egypt and the cessation of the Egyptian role in
Fateh-Hamas reconciliation, 21% believe that unity between the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip will resume soon, 50% believe unity will resume but only
after a long time, and 21% believe that unity will never return. These
results reflect a significant decrease in the percentage of those who
believe that the split is permanent (which stood at 39% three months ago),
perhaps due to the increased public and youth demonstrations in the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip demanding an end to the split.

In order to end the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 43%
believe that the regimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip should fall,
while 16% believe that ending the split requires the downfall of the regime
in the Gaza Strip only, and 15% believe it requires the downfall of the
regime in the West Bank only. 18% believe that ending the split does not
require the downfall of either regime.

In order to end the split, 33% support and 61% oppose a proposal whereby
president Abbas would accept Hamas conditions for unification even if such a
step would lead to the return of international sanctions and boycott.
Findings show that 69% view such a step by the president as posing a threat
to their own interests and those of the Palestinian people. A majority of
52% believe the chances for the president to take such a step are small or
very small while 42% believe chances are high or medium.

By contrast, a larger percentage (47%) support and 46% oppose a different
proposal whereby Hamas would end the spilt by accepting international
conditions imposed after it won the elections back in 2006, including
accepting peace agreements with Israel. The lesser opposition to this
proposal than to the previous one seems to be due to the fact that a much
lower percentage (43%) perceive such Hamas shift as a threat to their
interests or to the interests of the Palestinian people. But as in the
previous proposal, 53% believe the chances Hamas would take such an
initiative are small or very small and only 41% believe the chances are high
or medium.

(5) Presidency and Legislative Elections:

If new presidential elections are held today, and only two were nominated,
Abbas would receive the vote of 55% and Haniyeh 38% of the vote of those
participating. The rate of participation in such election would reach 58%.
These results are similar to those obtained in our pervious poll three
months ago. In the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives in this poll 53% and Haniyeh
42% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 56% and Haniyeh 35%.
If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail
Haniyeh, the former would receive 64% and the latter would receive 31% of
the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach
67%. In the Gaza Strip, Barghouti receives 59% and Haniyeh 36% and in the
West Bank Barghouti receives 66% and Haniyeh 28%. These results are similar
to those obtained three months ago.

Most popular figures selected by the public as possible vice presidents from
a list of five provided to respondents are Marwan Barghouti (selected by 30%
of the public), Ismail Haniyeh (18%), Salam Fayyad (14%) Mustafa Barghouti
(11%) and Saeb Erekat (2%). These percentages are similar to those obtained
by PSR three months ago.

If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all
factions, 71% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who
would participate, 26% say they would vote for Hamas and 40% say they would
vote for Fateh, 12% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 22%
are undecided. These results are similar to those obtained three months ago
with the exception of the likely vote for Fateh which dropped by four
percentage points. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip in this poll is 33% and
in the West Bank 21%. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip is 42% and in the
West Bank 39%.

(6) Local elections:

60% evaluate the performance of their local councils during the past five
years as good or very good and 34% as bad or very bad.
51% believe that the upcoming July local elections will be fair and 38%
believe they will not be fair.
47% believe the holding of local elections will consolidate the split and
20% believe it contributes positively to reconciliation while 28% believe
that it will have no effect on reconciliation.
46% believe that Fateh will win the upcoming local elections, and 13%
believe candidates from the left and independents will win the elections and
20% believe family candidates will be the winners.
61% of the West Bankers say they will participate in the local elections and
35% say they will not participate.
46% believe that if presidential and parliamentary elections were to be held
today, Fateh would win and only 16% believe Hamas would win while 22%
believe other factions will win.
51% believe that the reason Hamas is opposed to holding parliamentary and
presidential elections today is due to Hamas’ belief that it is not allowed
to operate freely in the West Bank or because it believes such elections
would not be fair or free, while 37% believe that the reason behind Hamas’
opposition to elections is fear of losing them.

(7) Most vital Palestinian goals and the main problems confronting
Palestinians today:

The largest percentage (45%) 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, 27% believe the first most vital goal
should be to obtain the right of return to refugees to their 1948 towns and
villages, 17% believe that it should be to build a pious or moral individual
and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings, and 10%
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 (38%) believes that the second most vital Palestinian
goal should be to obtain the right of return to refuges to their 1948 towns
and villages. 25% believe that the second goal should be to establish a
democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of
Palestinians, 22% 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, and 15%
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 28% of the public while a similar
percentage believes the most serious problem is the absence of national
unity due to the West Bank-Gaza Strip split, 22% believe the most serious
problem is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities, 11%
believe it to be the corruption in some public institutions, and 8% believe
it is the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings.

This poll was conducted with the support of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung -
Ramallah.

end of press release

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