Latest Palestinian public opinion
While almost all Palestinians followed the news about the Gilboa prison break on daily basis viewing it as inspiring to popular resistance, the killing of the opposition activist Nizar Banat and the PA behavior in its aftermath damage the standing of the PA as almost 80% of the public demand the resignation of president Abbas
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 15–18 September 2021.
The period before the conduct of the poll witnessed several developments including the killing of a political activist, Nizar Banat, right after his arrest and sever beating by the Palestinian security services, the eruption of widespread demonstrations against the PA demanding justice for Banat, the escape of six Palestinian prisoners from the Gilboa prison in Israel and the capture of four of them (just before the fieldwork began), the continued Egyptian-mediated Hamas-Israeli negotiations to strengthen the ceasefire reached in May and begin the process of reconstruction, the meeting of PA president Mahmoud Abbas with the Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz in Ramallah to talk about Palestinian-Israeli relations and means of improving them while strengthening the PA by implementing various trust-building measures. This press release addresses these issues and covers other matters such as the general conditions in the Palestinian territories, the peace process and future possible directions for Palestinians in the absence of a viable peace process. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is +/-3%.
Findings of the third quarter of 2021 show the centrality of domestic issues on shaping public attitudes. Three developments in particular are worth observing: the killing of the political activist Nizar Banat by PA security services, the manner in which PA security services dealt with protests during the last few months, and the residual impact of the last Hamas-Israel war of May 2021. Findings also show the great importance attached by the public to the issue of prisoners in Israeli jails. Impacted by all of the above, findings reflect continued PA loss of status and support.
A large majority rejects that the notion that the killing of Banat was a mistake unintentionally made by security officers. Instead, the public is confident that the death of the political activist was premediated, ordered by the political or security leadership. Because of that, the public is not satisfied with the step taken by the PA to ensure justice by putting all security officers involved on trial. The public is also angry with the manner in which the PA cracked down on public protests that demanded justice in the Banat case. In fact, three quarters view the behavior of the security services as a violation of liberties and human rights.
Findings show that the overwhelming majority of the public has been following, on daily basis, the news regarding the escape of six Palestinian prisoners from the Gilboa prison in Israel. The overwhelming majority views the prisoners’ behavior, even after they were captured, as inspiring to the Palestinians to rise and take the initiative to resist the occupation. Yet, on this issue of public consensus, one in which the PA is not a party, the Palestinian leadership and the security establishment do not come out looking good at all. While the public is easily convinced by Hamas’ proclamations and plans for freeing the prisoners, the PA is distrusted with the majority believes that the PA security services would not defend the prisoners.
The impact of the May 2021 confrontations in Jerusalem and the war between Hamas and Israel is still strongly felt in this poll. An overwhelming majority still thinks Hamas came out the winner and that Hamas goal has been to defend East Jerusalemites and al Aqsa Mosque. Indeed, the largest percentage (but not the majority) believes that Hamas is more deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people. The majority calls upon Hamas to relaunch rockets against Israel if East Jerusalemites are expelled from their homes in the city or if restrictions are imposed on Palestinian access to al Aqsa Mosque. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that now, after three months have passed since our last poll, we do see some decline in some of those indicators that measure the ascendance of Hamas. In almost all indicators, we see a small decline ranging between two to eight percentage points.
If new presidential and parliamentary elections were to take place today, Hamas would do relatively well compared to Fatah. This is particularly true for a presidential election, assuming president Abbas is Fatah’s candidate. The outcome would be dramatically different and more beneficial to Fatah if its candidate for the presidency is Marwan Barghouti. Most importantly for Fatah, findings show a significant increase in the demand for Abbas’ resignation, with almost 80% making the demand, an unprecedent PSR finding.
Findings show that in the context of increased Covid-19 infection rates, the majority is in favor of mandatory vaccination; but opposition is slightly more than a third. Yet, even among those who reject making vaccination mandatory to all of the public, a minority favors making it mandatory to those working in the public sector such as schools and ministries.
Findings on the peace process show continued but slow decline in support for the two-state solution. They also show high levels of support for armed struggle as the best means of ending the occupation with almost half of the public endorsing this position. Consistent with that we find a slim majority opposing a resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations under the sponsorship of the Quartet. Despite this, a majority of Palestinians view positively the confidence building measures that would improve living conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.