In September 2006, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey
Research conducted its regular quarterly survey. The poll dealt
with public evaluation of the performance of the Hamas government,
views on the national unity government, attitudes towards peace and
violence in the aftermath of the Lebanon War, and the domestic
balance of power. The total size of the sample was 1,270 adults
interviewed face-to-face in 127 randomly selected locations and the
margin of error was 3%.
Six months after the establishment of the Hamas government, poll
findings show widespread public dissatisfaction with its
performance, especially in the economic areas of salaries and
poverty as well as the enforcement of law and order. This
dissatisfaction leads the majority to support the formation of a
national unity government that is not under the full control of
Hamas. The largest percentage supports the formation of a
government in which Hamas and Fateh would enjoy equal weight.
But the dissatisfaction with the performance of the government does
not lead to a reduction in the popularity of Hamas compared to
where it was three months ago. Moreover, Fateh does not benefit
from Hamas's lack of performance, with its popularity remaining
essentially stable. Apparently, a majority of the public does not,
at this moment, view Fateh as a viable alternative to Hamas.
Moreover, despite the criticism of the performance of the
government, two-thirds of the public does not believe that Hamas
should recognize Israel as required by the international donor
community. This view does not reflect a hardening of public
attitude toward the two-state solution. Rather it reflects public
rejection of recognition of Israel as a precondition for
negotiations. Poll findings show that a majority of Palestinian
support recognition of Israel as a state for the Jewish people but
only as part of a settlement that creates a Palestinian state
alongside Israel and resolves all other issues of the
Poll findings also show widespread public acceptance of Hizbullah's
narrative regarding the origin and outcome of the war in Lebanon.
The war, in the public eye, has been a premeditated Israeli plan
and its outcome a victory for Hizbullah. Moreover, a clear majority
reach hard-line conclusions regarding war lessons. For example, on
the one hand the majority look positively at the need to emulate
Hizbullah's methods of using rockets and taking soldiers prisoner
in order to exchange them with Palestinian prisoners. On the other
hand, the overwhelming majority also conclude that the use of force
has its limits and that Palestinians must reach a political
settlement with Israel, and that they need the understanding and
support of the international community.
Domestic Conditions, Governmental Performance, and Views on a
National Unity Government
Poll findings show that 54% of the public are dissatisfied with the
overall performance of the Hamas government and 42% are satisfied.
The rate of satisfaction is at its lowest with regard to
performance in economic issues, such as providing salaries and
alleviating poverty, with only 26% satisfied and 69% dissatisfied.
Satisfaction is at its highest with regard to performance regarding
fighting corruption, with 46% satisfied and 49% dissatisfied.
Satisfaction with the overall performance of the Hamas government
is higher in the Gaza Strip (45%) compared to the West Bank (40%),
in cities (44%) compared to villages and towns (40%), among the
most religious (44%) compared to the least religious (39%), among
supporters of Hamas (75%) compared to supporters of Fateh (17%),
and among those most unwilling to buy a lottery ticket1 (51%)
compared to those most willing (27%).
Poll findings show that a strong correlation exists between
satisfaction with the overall performance of the Hamas government
and those willing to vote for Hamas if new elections were held
today: 90% of the highly satisfied would vote for Hamas (compared
to 4% for Fateh) and 4% of those who are not satisfied at all would
vote for Hamas (compared to 66% for Fateh).
To find a way out of the current crisis, the largest percentage
(46%) supports the formation of a national unity government in
which Fateh and Hamas would enjoy equal weight. A quarter supports
the formation of a national unity government in which Hamas would
dominate, while a similar percentage (24%) prefers a non-political
government made up of professionals. With regard to the priorities
of the future national unity government, the public is divided,
with about one-third (32%) focusing on fighting lawlessness by
enforcing law and order, a quarter focusing on renewing the peace
process, and a similar percentage (23%) focusing on ending the
current financial and political sanctions. Only 18% want the top
priority to be fighting corruption.
Findings show a deeply negative view of existing conditions, with
84% describing current conditions as bad or very bad and only 5%
describing them as good or very good. Moreover, 80% say they and
their families do not feel secure and safe in PA areas. The
percentage of those who believe that corruption exists in PA
institutions is at its highest (89%), while 72% believe that jobs
today can be obtained largely through wasta, or personal
This gloomy perception may be the reason why the largest percentage
(46%) does not view the strike by public employees and teachers as
a political strike targeting the Hamas government, but instead as
motivated by professional consideration, a protest against the
existing miserable conditions. Only 36% view it as an attack
against the Hamas government.
The Lebanon War
Findings show a large degree of consensus among the public (86%)
that Hizbullah has emerged victorious from the war in Lebanon,
while only 2% believe that Israel came out the winner. Moreover,
the overwhelming majority (90%) does not share the views expressed
by some Arab countries that the war in Lebanon was an uncalculated
risk by Hizbullah, with about two-thirds (65%) believing that the
war was a planned Israeli measure because Hizbullah had become a
threat to Israel. The percentage of those who believe that the war
had Syrian and Iranian origins did not exceed 5%. In brief, the
overwhelming majority of the Palestinians accept Hizbullah's,
rather than Israel's, narrative regarding the origin and outcome of
the war in Lebanon.
With regard to lessons learned from the war and their implications
for the Palestinian-Israeli situation, findings show apparent
inconsistency. On the one hand, 73% believe that the war has
strengthened the armed resistance option in Palestine and, in light
of the war, 75% would support taking Israeli soldiers prisoner in
order to exchange them with Palestinian prisoners. Moreover, 63%
believe that the Palestinians should emulate Hizbullah's methods by
using rockets against Israeli cities.
On the other hand, three-quarters agree with the view that
Palestinians cannot depend on armed action alone and must reach a
political settlement with Israel. A similar percentage believes
that Palestinians cannot count on themselves alone and that they
need the help and understanding of the international
One reason for this apparent inconsistency is that 84% believe that
there is a need to establish a Palestinian state soon in order to
prevent a future a war between Palestinians and Israel similar to
the war in Lebanon, while almost two-thirds (64%) believe that
Israel will never allow the establishment of an independent
Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East
Jerusalem as its capital. In other words, while the Palestinians
recognize the need for a political settlement acceptable to Israel
and the international community, they do not believe that Israel
would agree to a settlement that would lead to the establishment of
a Palestinian state; therefore, most Palestinians support armed
The Peace Process and Olmert's Realignment Plan
Findings show that two-thirds of the public do not believe that
Hamas should accept the international demand to recognize the State
of Israel in order to end the current financial and political
sanctions. This view does not mean that the public opposes a future
Palestinian recognition of Israel, as 63% support the recognition
of Israel as a Jewish state, but only as part of a package of
permanent-status that would resolve all issues of the conflict and
lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state recognized by
Israel as the state for the Palestinian people. Moreover, about
three-quarters (74%) want President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to
conduct permanent-status negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert. A majority of 59% (compared to 70% last June) support
Hamas's engagement in peace negotiations with Israel. But
expectations that such negotiations would succeed are not high: 44%
if conducted by Abu Mazen and 36% if by Hamas.
Findings show that 52% support the Road Map while 42% oppose it.
But only 44% support the collection of weapons from armed groups in
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as required by the Road Map.
However, if the collection of arms is restricted to the Gaza Strip
(now, after the Israeli disengagement) support increases to 64%. If
the solution to the arms and the armed men and militias can be
found in merging them into the Palestinian security services, the
overwhelming majority (82%) would support that.
Support for armed attacks against Israeli civilians remains as high
as it was three months ago, at 57%, with those opposing at 41%.
Findings also show that three-quarters believe that the Israeli
evacuation of settlements in the Gaza Strip has been a victory for
armed struggle, while 57% believe that armed confrontations have
helped achieve national rights where negotiations had failed, and
Most Palestinians have not heard about Olmert's Realignment Plan
for the evacuation of some settlements in the West Bank and the
relocation of settlers to settlement blocs near the separation
wall. Findings show that 70% do not welcome the plan, while only
26% welcome it. Given the war in Lebanon and the continuation of
armed confrontations in the Gaza Strip, the majority (65%) does not
believe that the plan will be implemented, while only 20% think it
Domestic Balance of Power
Findings show that despite the dissatisfaction with the Hamas-led
government, the popularity of Hamas has not dropped compared to
where it stood three months ago. Thirty-eight percent say they
would vote for Hamas if new elections were held today, compared to
39% last June and 47% last March. Support for Fateh remains
relatively stable, with a slight increase in this poll compared to
three months ago. Forty-one percent would vote for Fateh if
elections were held today, compared to 39% in March 2006 and again
in June 2006.
Findings show that satisfaction with the performance of Abu Mazen
stands today at 55% compared to 53% last June and 61% last March.
But if new elections for the presidency were held today and five
candidates competed, Abu Mazen would receive 31%, followed by
Ismail Haniyeh, the current prime minister, with 24%, Marwan
Barghouti (13%), Mustafa Barghouti (5%) and Mahmoud al-Zahhar
If elections were held for the office of vice president and seven
candidates competed, Ismail Haniyeh would receive the largest
percentage (20%), followed by Mahmoud al-Zahhar (16%), Marwan
Barghouti (15%), Mohammad Dahlan (9%), and Saeb Erekat, Farouq
Qaddoumi, and Mustafa Barghouti (7% each).
1 Playing the lottery is condemned by the Qur'an and hence is an
indication of the degree of religiosity among the respondents.