A guest post by AKUS
Ever since I came across a naïve report on “Comment is Free” touting the cooked poll run by J Street about US Jews’ views of the I/P issue, I’ve had a soft-spot for polls about the issue. They generally seem hopelessly biased, usually due to the careful selection of a, typically, small number of “appropriate” respondents.
The recent Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) poll reported on CiF Watch via Israel Matzav was far more rigorous than most I’ve seen, as have been its previous efforts:
“The poll was conducted right after the expiration of the Israeli partial settlement freeze and during Palestinian deliberations on the future of their direct negotiations with the Israeli government… Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%.”
Among many other interesting results, its findings give lie to those endlessly promoting a “one state solution” (i.e., the destruction of Israel) and boycotts of Israel by WBers (by CiFers sipping latte’s at a convenient Starbucks). The response to Q.35-3 showed an overwhelming dismissal of the idea of a “one state solution” on the WB and in Gaza, though I suppose no objective data will cause members of the “pro-Palestinian” crowd to change their ingrained opinions or stop them from claiming it is only Israelis that reject the concept:
Q. 35 -3 Abandon the two state solution and demand the establishment of one state for Palestinians and Israelis
Support: WB – 28.6%. Gaza 14.4%
Oppose: WB – 68.9% Gaza 73.6%
Moreover, despite the world-wide clamor over Gaza, PSR reports that only 15% of Palestinians on the WB and in Gaza regard the “siege” as the main problem confronting them. National unity (or lack thereof) and poverty and unemployment are regarded as roughly twice as important:
….. what worsens conditions for Hamas is the public belief that the two issues of national unity and ending the siege should be two of the most important Palestinian priorities. In an open question about the main problems confronting Palestinians which should be the top priorities of the PA, 26% mentioned the absence of national unity due to the split, while 15% mentioned the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings, 28% mentioned poverty and unemployment, 16% mentioned occupation and settlement activities, and 11% mentioned corruption in some public institutions.
Those eagerly cheering on WB boycotts of Israeli goods (which are widely available in Gaza, of course) or hoping to stop WBers working for Israeli companies should take these numbers to heart. Flotilla supporters should consider how unimportant their PR stunts are to most of the Arabs on the WB and in Gaza.
There were a several responses in PSR’s summary of key findings that knock the feet out from the anti-Israeli arguments and breast-beating about the occupation constantly repeated on CiF by a small group of robo-typists.
It turns out that while conditions in Gaza are not considered good, by a large majority WBers feel things are not so bad. So the occupation of the WB, the settlements, the checkpoints, etc. are presumably not affecting WBers’ lives as much as the bleeding hearts parading on their behalf elsewhere would believe. This reflect the reports we read of restaurants, cinemas , nightclubs, beer factories, and so forth that are starting to populate even the Guardian’s website:
- 70% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip and 34% describe conditions in the West Bank as bad or very bad.
- 58% believe there is, or there is to some extent, free press in the West Bank and 32% say there is, or there is to some extent, free press in the Gaza Strip.
- Perception of safety and security is identical in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: 60% say that these days they feel that their safety and security is assured.
- Positive evaluation of the performance of public institutions in the West Bank reaches 43% and in the Gaza Strip 30%.
(A fairly substantial portion of the US electorate would likely respond in similar fashion to similar questions about the current state of affairs in the USA!!)
Moreover, the leader of “democratically elected government” of Gaza would fall to almost any other reasonable candidate, and Hamas would be trounced if they ever made the mistake of holding a new round of elections:
- If new presidential elections were held today, Abbas would receive 57% and Ismail Haniyeh 36%, and if competition is between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former would receive 65% and the latter 30%.
- If new legislative elections were held today, Fatah would receive 45%, Hamas 26%, all other electoral lists combined 12%, and 17% remain undecided.
What is worse, from the point of view of those who wish to see the WB and Gaza unified as a single Palestinian state, is that if Hamas won an unlikely victory Palestinians believe that that would essentially cement the separation between the two territories:
- A Hamas victory in new elections will lead to the consolidation of separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the eyes of half of the public and to the tightening of the siege and blockade in the eyes of 86% of the public.
Despite the bravado recently exhibited by the PA in statements proposing a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, or getting the UN to agree to its establishment:
… 67% believe that the chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel in the next five years are slim or non-existent while 32% believe the chances are medium or high.
The respondents are also more realistic than the Obama administration about getting an agreement to stick, given the split between the WB and Gaza:
The opposition to negotiation might also be driven by prevailing doubts about the legitimacy of any agreement that might come out of it given the fact that the term of the President and the legislative council has ended: even if it was possible to reach an agreement, 51% say such an agreement would be illegitimate while 43% say it will be legitimate.
Finally, there was a fascinating little insight into the relative popularity of various Muslim states among the respondents. Turkey, after the excitement over the Mavi Marmara incident passed, is barely half as popular as before. The rising popularity of Egypt in the Gaza Strip (30% say Egypt is their first choice) could indicate an increasing realization that Gaza and the WB will never be united, and the alternative of Egyptian control rather than continuing suffering under Hamas is beginning to attract attention. Syria, touted on CiF as a key to the resolution of the I/P conflict, the Saudis with their peace plan, and Iran with its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, are virtually tied for last place:
In an open question about the regional country most supportive of the Palestinians, Turkey was selected by 25% of the public, remaining the most popular among respondents, followed by Egypt with 17%, Syria with 8%, and Iran and Saudi Arabia with 7% each. These results indicate a reduction in the percentage of those who selected Turkey from 43% last June and an increase of those who selected Egypt from 13% during the same period. It is worth noting that Egypt came first in the Gaza Strip with 30% selecting it.
Compare the poll to reports published in outlets like the Guardian. It presents picture that reaffirms the anecdotal evidence of improving conditions that we read more and more frequently, and provides insights into the real obstacles facing an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Assuming, of course, that the PA leadership even wants an agreement, which appears to be something they are less and less interested in.