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last updated Jan. 18, 2010
published Jan. 11, 1997
Poll No. 23, November 1997 - On Palestinian Attitudes Towards Current Issues
Read more:  peace process, negotiations, final status, Palestinian politicians, economy, factions, governance, corruption, Palestinian Authority, public opinion
Summary: Introduction

Results of JMCC's November public opinion poll indicate a significant change in Palestinian public opinion on a number of political issues, which appears due largely to certain significant political events which occurred over the past three months. The main aspects of this shift in attitude can be summarized as follows:

• A significant increase in level of support to the Hamas movement in particular, and to political and religious opposition groups in general. The level of support and confidence in Hamas rose from 11.3% in July of this year to 17.3% in this poll. In addition, the level of support and confidence groups opposing the peace process (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, other Islamic organizations, PFLP, DFLP) went up to 25% from 20.1% in July. This may be due to popular sympathy gained by Hamas after the Israeli assassination attempt against Khalid Masha'al in Amman, and the subsequent release of Sheikh Yassin. Sheikh Yassin's return to Gaza was accompanied by popular festivals and media coverage that put Hamas and its leaders at the forefront of the news for some time.

• The rise in levels of support for the peace process and those engaged in it, especially the Fateh movement and PA president Yasser Arafat. Support for the peace process rose to 74.2% from 68.7%. Support for Fateh increased from 34.8% in July to 40.9%. Moreover, levels of support for Arafat increased from 37.6% to 46.4%. This could be attributed to the latest political developments -- Israel's avoiding implementation of the agreements signed with the Palestinians, and the recent Israeli proposals on redeployment. These Israeli attempts to avoid their obligations under signed agreements appear to make the Palestinians then cling to these agreements. It may be too that President Arafat's firm position against the Israel's proposals and the increased tension in bilateral relations have caused the increase in confidence in his leadership. The extensive campaign in the Israeli media about the state of Arafat's health might also have contributed to an increase in Palestinian sympathies for him.

• The increase in support both for Fateh and the opposition go hand in hand with a decrease in respondents who say the trust no one. People who felt they had no trust in anyone decreased from 31.2% in July to 17.3% in November. It may be that the escalating political crisis between Palestinians and Israelis has deepened the polarization among Palestinians, leading to a decrease in number of reluctant Palestinians and increasing the divisions between those who support and those in opposition.

• On the economic level, only 19.2% of those surveyed believe that the peace process has had a positive impact on the Palestinian economy, while 68.3% believe that the peace process has had either a very negative or negative impact on the Palestinian economy. It is worth nothing that these figures coincide with recent UN reports indicating a decline in living standards and national and individual incomes in Palestine during the peace process years.

• Finally, 82% still believe that corruption is widespread in the Palestinian Authority; only 6.9% believe there is no corruption. 40.8% percent believe that the Authority is capable of handling this corruption, while 47.8% see the Authority as not doing enough to fight corruption.
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