Ma'an News Agency
March 24, 2011 - 12:00am

The results of a public opinion poll from mid-March showed broad support for protests across the Middle East, and a decline in popularity for both the West Bank and Gaza governments, responding to documentary series run by Al-Jazeera and regional upheaval.

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research released the poll findings on Wednesday, which showed 67 percent of Gaza residents, compared to 32 percent of West Bankers, believe protests should be held to change their respective governments.

The poll highlighted overwhelming support for protests in Egypt and across the Middle East, with 92 percent sympathizing with calls for change in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen when the poll was conducted between March 17-19.

Numbers were less unanimous on the impact of the protests for Palestinians, with 64 percent saying they expect the developments in the Arab world to have a positive impact on Palestinian conditions, 17 percent saying they believe they will have a negative impact, and 15 percent saying they believe the protests will have no impact.

Asked whether they would participate in demonstrations against their government, 50 percent of Gaza residents said they would protest, compared to 24 percent of West Bankers. As to what they would demonstrate for, the largest number (51 percent) said they would demand an end to Palestinian division.

Reaction to Palestine papers reduces confidence in PA

Of the 78 percent who said they had seen or heard about the Al-Jazeera documentary series the Palestine Papers, which publicized leaked documents from 10 years of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, 79 percent said they believed that some or all of what was aired was truthful.

The documentaries said PLO negotiators had offered large swaths of Jerusalem, promised a return for only 10 percent of Palestinian refugees, and said documents showed Palestinian Authority cooperation in the siege of Gaza. Government officials in the West Bank accused Al-Jazeera of bias, and others denied the accusations.

Pollsters found that 62 percent of Palestinians who had seen the documentaries were unconvinced by the PA response, with 59 percent saying the documentaries sought to uncover the truth, while 36 percent believed the station was conspiring against the PA.

Perception of Gaza conditions improving

There was a slight increase in Gaza residents describing their life conditions as good or very good, from the last PSR poll in December 2010, with 21 percent happy with the conditions (four percent rise), and 56 percent describing conditions as bad or very bad (six percent fall).

In the West Bank, there was a slight decline, with 33 percent describe conditions as good or very good and the same percentage describing them as bad or very bad. Three months earlier, these percentages stood at 35 and 31 respectively.

Elections and popularity

If new presidential elections were held during the polling period, with two nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 55 percent of Palestinians and Haniyeh 38 percent, the poll found. The rate of participation in such an election would reach 58 percent. The results were comparable to those of the last poll.

There was some variance between the West Bank and Gaza, with Abbas receiving poll 53 percent of the votes and Haniyeh 42 percent among Gaza respondents, whereas in the West Bank Abbas received 56 percent and Haniyeh 35 percent.

If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 64 percent and the latter 31 percent of participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach 67 percent, the poll said.

In the Gaza Strip, Barghouti would receive 59 and Haniyeh 36 percent, while in the West Bank Barghouti would receive 66 and Haniyeh 28 percent. These results are similar to those obtained three months ago, the pollsters said.

A list of five popular figures as possible vice presidents were ranked by respondents as follows:
Marwan Barghouti 30 percent
Ismail Haniyeh 18 percent
Salam Fayyad 14 percent
Mustafa Barghouti 11 percent
Saeb Erekat 2 percent.

These percentages were similar to those obtained by PSR in December.

The sample size was 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations, with a 3% margin of error.


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