MR
10.02.09
Palestinian Opinions after the Gaza War
by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre

Fatah and Hamas

The results of the public opinion poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC) during the period 29-31 January 2009 show that the majority of respondents (46.7%) believed that Hamas came out of the war victorious compared with only 9.8% who said that Israel won the war.  Over one-third, 37.4%, said that neither side achieved victory in this war.

A striking finding in this field poll is the disparity between opinions in the West Bank and those in the Gaza Strip on most of the issues tackled in the poll.  For example, 53.3% of respondents in the West Bank believed that Hamas won the recent war, while 35.2% of respondents in Gaza felt the same.

The poll, with a random sample of 1,198 respondents, found a rise in the popularity -- especially in the West Bank -- of the Hamas movement, its leaders, and its government alongside a decline in the popularity of the Fatah movement, its leaders, and its government.

The percentage of those who would vote for Hamas if PLC elections were held today rose to 28.6% in this poll compared with 19.3% last April.  On the other hand, the popularity of the Fatah movement declined from 34% last April to 27.9% in this poll.

This change was also reflected in the level of public trust in the two movements.  Trust in Hamas rose from 16.6% last November to 27.7% in this poll.  With regard to Fatah, popular trust in the movement declined from 31.3% to 26% in the same period.  It is clear from the poll that the rise in Hamas's popularity is due to an increase in its popularity in the West Bank -- it rose from 12.8% last November to 26.5% in this poll.

This same trend applies to public trust in leading figures.  The percentage of those who trust discharged PM Ismail Hanieh went up from 12.8% last October to 21.1% in this poll; this is due to a rise in his popularity in the West Bank from 9.2% to 18.5%.  Trust in President Mahmoud Abbas went down from 15.5% last October to 13.4% in this poll.

The percentage of respondents who believe that the performance of the government of Fayyad is better than the performance of Hanieh's government declined from 36% last April to 26.9% in this poll, while those who believe that the performance of Fayyad's government is worse than Hanieh's government rose from 29.1% to 40.7%.

Military Operations and Negotiations

This JMCC poll found that Israel's war on Gaza contributed to an increase in support for military action against Israel.  The percentage of respondents who believe that locally made rockets help achieve the Palestinian national goals rose from 39.3% last April to 50.8% in this poll, with a decrease in the percentage of respondents who believe that the rockets harm national interests from 35.7% last April to 20.8% in this poll.

In the same trend, the percentage of those who support military operations against Israeli targets as an appropriate response under the current political conditions increased from 49.5% last April to 53.5% in this poll.  Moreover, this poll found that the percentage of supporters of bombing operations against Israeli civilians increased from 50.7% to 55.4% for the same period.

According to the JMCC poll results, the war led to an increase in the percentage of those who oppose peace negotiations.  Nearly 41% (40.9%) of respondents polled opposed peace negotiations compared with 34.7% in a JMCC poll conducted last November.

International Positions

The war on Gaza contributed to a rise in popularity of several leaders and countries that adopted positions against Israel and the organizations that played a humanitarian role.  Turkey satisfied the highest percentage of Palestinians (89.6%), followed by Venezuela (80.6%), the International Committee of the Red Cross (79.8%), UNRWA (78.6%), Qatar (68.3%), Hezbollah (66.9%), the Muslim Brotherhood Movement (57.6%), and Iran (55.9%).

On the other hand, respondents' satisfaction with the positions of countries that sided more with Israel during the war was very minimal.  Only 2.8% of respondents were satisfied with the United States, followed by Britain (10.4%), then Germany (14.4%).  Among the Western countries, France was the one whose role the greatest percentage of respondents (21.5%) found satisfactory.  The role of Egypt was regarded as satisfactory by 35.1% of respondents while Jordan enjoyed a satisfaction level of 41.7%.

In spite of this, the new US administration, headed by Barack Obama, injected some optimism into Palestinian public opinion.  Although almost half of the respondents (48.2%) said that Obama's election as president of the United States won't make any difference in the chances of achieving a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, 28.1% said they are more optimistic about solving the conflict (this is the highest percentage ever received by a US president in JMCC polls) while 18.9% said they feel more pessimistic.

Palestinians also weighed in on the party most preferred to assume the process of Gaza reconstruction after the war on Gaza.  A majority of 30.6% said they prefer an international mechanism under UN supervision to assume this task; the second choice was a national unity government (27.2%) while 23.2% prefer the government of Hamas and a minority of 13.7% said they prefer the Palestinian Authority.

Background

Sixty researchers from the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, one-third of them from Gaza Strip, participated in this poll.  They conducted direct face-to-face interviews with respondents.  The researchers reached all regions in Gaza Strip.  It was found that around 70% of the regions visited by the researchers suffered direct damage as a result of the Israeli operations, including Rafah, Abasan, Tuffah Quarter, Zaitoun Quarter, and many other areas.

Methodology:

A random sample of 1,198 people over the age of 18 was interviewed face-to-face throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 29-31 January 2009.  The interviews were conducted in randomly selected homes, and the subjects inside each home were also selected randomly according to Kish tables.  The interviews were conducted in 60 sampling points chosen randomly according to population.  In the West Bank 758 people were surveyed from the following areas: Hebron: Hebron, Doura, Yatta, Bani Ne'em, Halhoul, Al-Aroub RC, Ithna, Sa'eer.  Jenin: Jenin, Jenin RC, Ya'bad, Yamoun, Arrabeh, Silet ad-Daher, Sirees, al-Judaideh.  Bethlehem: Bethlehem, Biet Sahour, Irtas, al-Walajeh, Joret el Sham'a, Aida RC.  Ramallah & al-Bireh: Ramallah, Al-Bireh, Kufr Nimeh, Der Ammar RC, Budros, Aboud, Biet Anan, Ebwen.  Jericho: Jericho, Aqabet Jaber RC.  Jerusalem: Addahiyeh, Arram, Ber Nabala, Shufat RC, Shufat, Old City, Biet Hanina, Biet Hanina tahta, al-'Issawia, Wadi el-Joz, Jabel el-Mukaber, Sour Baher.  Nablus: Nablus, Bidya, Der Istia, Yatma, Qusra, Tal, Askar RC, Roujib, Beta.  Tulkarem and Qalqilya: Tulkarem, Toulkarem RC, Bal'a, Jaroushiyeh, Qalqilia, Kufr Sour.  In the Gaza Strip: 440 people were surveyed from: Gaza: Shati RC, a-Shuja'ia, Attufah, Sheikh Radwan, a-Nasser, a- rimal a-Shamali, a-rimal, a-Janoubi, Sabra, A-Zeitoun.  Khan Younis: Absan al-Saghira, Khan Yunis, Bani Suheila, Abasan al-Kabira, Khan Yunis RC.  Rafah: Rafah, Rafah RC.  Gaza North: Jabalia, Beit Lahia, Jabalia RC, Beit Hanoun.  Deir al-Balah: Deir Al Balah, Nussirat RC, al-Maghazi RC.  The margin of error is ±3 percent, with a confidence level of 95%.

Sample Distribution

51.6 % of the respondents were from West Bank, 11.7 % from Jerusalem, 36.7 % from the Gaza Strip.  31.6% said they live in villages 15.0% in refugee camps, and 53.4 % in towns/cities.  52.2% were male, 47.8% were female.  59.7% were married, 31.3%, single, 3.8% widowed, 1.1% divorced, 4.1% no answer.  The average age of the respondents was 34years.

Occupation of Respondents

Students 16.1%
Laborers 8.3%
Farmers/fishermen 2.5%
Craftsmen 1.0%
Businessmen/private business 9.7%
Public Sector Employees 12.9%
Private Sector Employees 8.0%
Professionals (e.g. doctors/lawyers/pharmacists/engineers) 1.3%
Housewives 31.3%
Unemployed 6.4%
Retired 1.3 %
No answer 1.2%

The Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre was established in 1988 by a group of Palestinian journalists and researchers to provide information on events in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip.  Click here to download the survey results in full.
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