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last updated March 1, 2017
published March 2, 2017
Poll No. 89 - February 2017 - Gender, Equality and Politics
Read more:  women, men, gender, politics, Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Authority, PA, PNA, leadership, Hamas, PFLP, Donald Trump, US policy, US foreign policy, foreign policy, two state solution, Palestine, Palestinian state, one state solution, binational state
Palestinians pessimistic after Trump: support cancelling recognition of Israel if US embassy is moved

Preference for holding elections, although women more reluctant

Support for Fatah remains consistent, backing for Hamas falls

Continued pessimism regarding Hamas-Fatah reconciliation

Differing attitudes of men and women on social and religious customs

A public opinion poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre (JMCC) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung showed that the majority of Palestinians, 53.7%, have become more pessimistic regarding the possibility of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict after the election of new US President Donald Trump, as opposed to 4.7% who became more optimistic.  In comparison, when Barack Obama was elected president in 2009, 28.1% of respondents were more optimistic while 18.9% more pessimistic. In addition, 48.5% said the election of Trump would decrease the chances of reaching a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis against 5.1% who said his election would increase the chances for peace between the two sides. When Obama was elected president in 2009, 35.4% believed his election would increase chances for peace as opposed to 11.5% who said the opposite.

As for the best response to a possible move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the largest percentage 23.4%, called for the cancellation of the Palestinian recognition of Israel while 19.7% said they supported a boycott of the US Embassy. 18.7% of the Palestinians polled answered that a complaint should be lodged against the United States at the UN and 16.5% supported an end to dealing with the United States as a sponsor of the peace process.

Preference for holding elections, although women more reluctant
For the first time, the poll separated the answers of Palestinian men and women to get a better idea of how opinions differ on important Palestinian issues. The poll showed there was an increase in the percentage of those who support elections under any circumstances from 37.6% in March of last year to 46.9% this February. The majority of these respondents, 55.9%, are from the Gaza Strip as opposed to 41.5% from the West Bank. Meanwhile, the percentage of those who said they would vote for Hamas decreased to 16.5% in this poll after being 20.2% in August, 2015. Furthermore, 40.4% said they would vote for Fatah in comparison to 41.1% in August, 2015. It is noteworthy that 31.1% of women who participated in the poll said they would not vote under any circumstances while 19.9% of men answered the same way.  

If presidential elections took place and President Mahmoud Abbas did not run, Marwan Barghouti would be the preferred option of Palestinians with 14.6% of respondents voting in his favor, followed by Ismail Haniyeh with 9.1%.

In general, the biggest percentage of respondents, 35.4%, still said they trust Fatah the most among the Palestinian political and religious factions as opposed to 16.3% who trusted Hamas the most, followed by the PFLP with 3.8%. It is noteworthy that the percentage of men who trust Fatah is higher than that of women. Contrarily, the percentage of women who do not trust anyone is higher than men.

Discrepancies between men and women: reconciliation and political solutions
The poll showed a discrepancy between the opinions of men and women in regarding a number of pressing issues; for example, men were more pessimistic regarding reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas (19.2% expected it to be completed) as opposed to 24.2% of women. Furthermore, the larger percentage of women, 25.6%, blamed Israel the most for the persisting division – in contrast only 19.9% of Palestinian men blamed Israel.

In all cases, the percentage of those who support the binational (one-state) solution decreased from 21.3% in July of last year to 18.1% in this poll. Meanwhile, the percentage of those who believe the two-state formula is the preferred solution to the conflict increased from 43.7% in July of last year to 49.6%.

In regards to the best method for achieving the goals of the Palestinian people, there is an increase in the percentage of those who believe peaceful negotiations are the best method from 33.6% in March, 2015 to 37.6% this February, with the highest percentage of support among women, 39.1%% . Moreover, 19.3% of those polled blamed the persisting division on Hamas while 12% blamed it on Fatah; the percentage of those who blamed both Fatah and Hamas increased from 24.0% in August, 2015 to 39.2% this February.

Men and women: what about equality?
The largest percentage of those polled, 47.4% - with no notable difference between men and women – said that equality between men and women in our society had improved over the past 10 years. Still, 12.8% of respondents said the level of equality had declined. It should be noted that that a larger number of respondents from Gaza 19.6%, said equality had declined.

48.0% of respondents said the police adopt a fair policy towards women; the majority of these respondents, 52.5%, in the West Bank with 40.3% in Gaza. Moreover, the majority, 61.1% said they believed that police deal appropriately with battered women while 22.4% said they deal inappropriately with them.
A much higher percentage of women in Gaza (33.6%) felt that the police deal inappropriately with battered women -  in contrast, 15.6% of respondents in the West Bank felt the same way.?

Differing attitudes of men and women on social and religious customs
The largest percentage of those polled, 42.5%, said they would support laws based on Islamic Sharia as opposed to 14.7% who said they should be based on Civil Law. The poll showed that women leaned more towards adopting laws based on Islamic Sharia, with 45.1% in support as opposed to 39.8% of men.

The majority of those polled, 83.8%, said they opposed the marriage of girls under the age of 18 while 16.1% said they supported it. Likewise, the majority of respondents, 69.3%, said they opposed multiple wives while 30,6% said they supported it. It should be noted that 42.4% of polled men said they supported multiple wives while 80.4% of women opposed it.

Furthermore, the majority of those polled, 64.6%, said they do not shake hands with the other sex, the majority of these being women. As to why, the majority of those polled, 84.1%,  said they do not shake hands with the other sex for religious reasons while 14.7% said for social reasons pertaining to traditions and habits.

Affiliation and the Palestinian identity
When respondents were asked how they would define themselves in one word, more than half, 52.5%, said they were Palestinian, while the other half were divided between 21.7% who said they were Muslim, 5.3% who said Arab, 3.3% who said they defined themselves as Fatah. The majority of the remaining respondents said they did not know or did not have an answer. It should be mentioned that no discrepancies in responses were noted between Gaza Strip and West Bank residents or between men and women.

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"After Annapolis," Bitterlemons Dec. 3, 2007
"Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine: A Resolution for Mennonite Church USA," Orland 2017 (pdf)
"Supreme court overturns ban on Arab parties from national elections", Haaretz, January 26, 2009

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