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Monday, December 17, 2012
PSR Poll of Palestinians: Gaza War gives Hamas an electoral victory in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip if elections are held today

PSR - Survey Research Unit: Poll No. 46 - Press Release
17 December 2012
PRESS RELEASE
Gaza War gives Hamas an electoral victory in the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip if elections are held today
13-15 December 2012
http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2012/p46epressrelease.html

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 December 2012. Two major developments preceded the conduct of
the poll: (1) the Gaza war between Hamas and Israel followed by a ceasefire,
a visit by Khalid Mish’al to the Gaza Strip, and Hamas’ celebration of
victory in the war on the occasion of its launch, (2) the submission of a
Palestinian request for the upgrading of the status of Palestine to a
non-member state at the UN, the vote at the General Assembly on the request
with 138 countries voting in favor, and the return of president Mahmoud
Abbas to the West Bank amid public celebrations in support of his UN bid.
This press release covers public evaluation of the general West Bank and
Gaza conditions, 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. 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 Gaza war, 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:

The events of the past several weeks have given Hamas a significant boost
similar to the aftermath of the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt in
early 2008. The fourth quarter of 2012 shows a dramatic change in public
attitude favoring Hamas. Haniyeh’s popularity increases significantly
allowing him to defeat Abbas if new presidential elections are held today. A
parliamentary election, if held today, would give Hamas and Fateh an almost
equal number of votes. Moreover, positive public evaluation of conditions in
the Gaza Strip increases dramatically and the gap in public perception of
conditions in the West Bank compared to conditions in the Gaza Strip widens
in favor of the latter; this gap was first registered in our previous poll
last September. Needless to say, the outcome of the latest Gaza war between
Hamas and Israel is responsible for this change, a subject that we will turn
to shortly in our next press release.

Findings are also somewhat positive for Abbas. Evaluation of conditions in
the West Bank is more positive today than it was three months ago.
Similarly, positive evaluation of Abbas’ performance increases in this poll.
These results might have been generated by the outcome of the diplomatic
warfare at the UN between the PA and Israel. The cessation of demonstrations
and internal confrontations that erupted in the West Bank more than three
months ago in protest against price rises and the deteriorating economic
conditions might have also contributed to the general public perception of
improvement of the general conditions in the West Bank. Finally, findings
show a dramatic increase in the level of optimism regarding the chances for
reconciliation and the reunification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
compared to the situation not only three months ago but most importantly
since the separation in June 2007.

(1) Presidential, Legislative, and Local Elections:

Haniyeh wins a presidential election: If new presidential elections are held
today, and only two were nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 45% and
Haniyeh 48% of the vote of those participating. The rate of participation in
such elections would reach 69%. Three months ago, Abbas received the support
of 51% and Haniyeh 40%. In this poll, in the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives 44%
and Haniyeh 52% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 45% and Haniyeh 45%. The
percentage of vote for Haniyeh is the highest since Hamas’ electoral victory
in 2006. The previous highest percentage of vote for Haniyeh stood at 47% in
March 2008, immediately after the breaching of the Rafah borders with Egypt.
Percentage of support for Abbas at that time stood at 46%

If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail
Haniyeh, the former would receive 51% and the latter would receive 42% of
the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach
73%. In our September poll Barghouti received 61% of the vote and Haniyeh
32%.

If the presidential elections were between three: Mahmud Abbas, Marwan
Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, Haniyeh would receive the largest percentage
(39%) followed by Barghouti (29%), and Abbas (27%). The rate of
participation in this case would reach 77%. In our previous poll last
September, Barghouti received 45%, Haniyeh 29%, and Abbas 20%.

If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all
factions, 78% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who
would participate, 35% say they would vote for Hamas and 36% say they would
vote for Fateh, 10% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 20%
are undecided. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip stands in this poll at 39%
and in the West Bank at 33%. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip stands in this
poll at 38% and in the West Bank at 34%. These results indicate a sharp
increase in Hamas’ popularity compared to our September results when it
stood at 28% (31% in the Gaza Strip and 25% in the West Bank). By contrast,
Fateh’s popularity remained almost unchanged during the same period.

Only 49% of the public believe that the local elections that took place in
the West Bank last October were fair and 34% say they were not fair.

(2) Domestic Conditions:

Positive evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip rises sharply from 25%
three months ago to 43% in this poll while 33% say conditions are bad or
very bad.

Similarly, positive evaluation of conditions in the West Bank rises sharply
from 19% three months ago to 35% in this poll while 36% say conditions are
bad or very bad.

Perception of corruption in PA institutions in the West Bank drops from 79%
in our previous poll three months ago to 74% in this poll. Perception of
corruption in the public institutions of Hamas’ Gaza government stands at
53% compared to 63% three months ago.

24% say there is, and 45% say there is to some extent, press freedom in the
West Bank. Similarly, 23% say there is, and 40% say there is to some extent,
press freedom in the Gaza Strip.

35% of the Palestinian public say people in the West Bank can criticize the
authority in the West Bank without fear. By contrast, 29% of the public say
people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear.
These results indicate a decrease in the perception of freedom to criticize
authorities in the West Bank compared to results obtained three months ago
when it stood at 42%.

Perception of safety and security in the West Bank stands at 60% and in the
Gaza Strip at 70%. Three months ago these percentages stood at 64% in the
Gaza Strip and 56% in the West Bank.

Findings show that the percentage of Gazans who say they seek immigration to
other countries stands at 41%; in the West Bank, the percentage stands at
22%. Last September these percentages stood at 42% and 29% respectively.

Positive evaluation of the performance of the Haniyeh government rises
sharply from 35% three months ago to 56% in this poll and positive
evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government increases from 22% to
34% during the same period.

Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at
54% while 44% say they are dissatisfied with his performance. Three months
ago, satisfaction with Abbas stood at 46%.

(3) Reconciliation:

In light of the resumption of the dialogue between Fateh and Hamas, 39% say
they expect unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to be restored in
the near future, 40% believe that unity will be restored but only after a
long time, and only 18% say unity will never be restored and that two
separate entities will be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In our September poll, the largest percentage (42%) said that unity will
never be restored and two separate entities will be established; only 14%
said unity will be restored in the near future. The current percentage of
optimism regarding reconciliation and restoration of unity is the highest
since separation. At that time, a percentage of 29% believed that unity will
be restored within months while 22% said separation will become permanent.

(4) 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, 33% believe the first most vital goal should be to
obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages, 14%
believe that it should be to build a pious or moral individual and a
religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings, and 9% 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 27% of the public while 25%
believe the most serious problem is the continuation of occupation and
settlement activities, another 25% 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 6% believe it is the siege
and the closure of the Gaza border crossings.

___________________________________________________________________
* This survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
in Ramallah.

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