Photo Credit: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90
PA poll worker counts the local election votes at a polling station in the village of Deir Al-Hatab, east of Shechem, December 11, 2021.

According to the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip December 8-11 2021, ahead of the first phase of local elections in rural areas and small towns in the Palestinian Authority on Dec. 11, but without confirmation of a date for the second phase of local elections, in the cities.

Hamas has banned local elections in the Gaza Strip.

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The first phase of local elections was held on December 11 in 154 local municipalities with a participation rate of 66%, according to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission. The number of participants stood at 262,827 voters.

The vote coincided with violent incidents in Arab universities in the PA that resulted in the death of one student. During the same period, Israel classified 6 Arab human rights NGOs as terrorist organizations, and the UK labeled Hamas a terrorist organization.

The size of the poll’s sample is 1,270 adults who were interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. The margin of error is +/-3%.

The Poll’s Main Findings:

While the PA Arab public is pessimistic about the prospects of holding parliamentary or presidential elections in the near future, it is optimistic that the second phase of local elections will take place – it is scheduled for March 26, 2022.

Fatah is more popular than Hamas in the PA cities, while Hamas is more popular in the Gazan cities that may or may not participate in the second phase of the elections.

The overall domestic balance of power between Fatah and Hamas has not changed compared to September 2021 (when the previous poll was conducted). On the presidential level, Hamas is more popular than Fatah, and Ismail Haniyeh easily wins against Chairman Abba or Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in one on one races. But Marwan Barghouti, also from Fatah, wins against Haniyyeh with two-thirds of the vote. Of course, Barghouti is behind bars in Israel.

Three-quarters of the public demanded the resignation of president Abbas.

Despite Haniyeh’s popularity, the poll’s findings show that the percentage of those who choose Hamas to represent and lead the people has declined significantly and the gap between those who choose Hamas compared to those who choose Fatah—under Abbas’ leadership—has now narrowed to 11 percentage points in favor of Hamas; in September, the gap stood at 26 points in favor of Hamas and in June, a month after the Hamas-Israel May 2021 war, the gap stood at 39% in favor of Hamas.

The percentage of those who believe that neither Fatah, under Abbas, nor Hamas deserve to represent and lead the people has now increased considerably.

The poll asked about various political solutions to the conflict with Israel and about the confidence-building measures that seek to improve the daily living conditions in the PA and the Gaza Strip. Here are the main results:

The majority is still opposed to the two-state solution. But support for this solution has increased compared to the September 2021 findings and decreased compared to the October 2021 findings.
The two-state solution remains the one with the largest percentage of support compared to other solutions, including that of the one-state solution in which the two sides, Arabs and Israeli Jews, enjoy equal rights; support for the one-state solution is higher than one quarter and less than one third.
There is a clear majority, higher than 60%, in favor of confidence-building measures that improve PA Arabs’ daily living conditions.

The poll also shows that despite a two-thirds opposition to a resumption of unconditional bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, a large minority approaching about half of the public is in favor of a resumption of such negotiations under the sponsorship of the Quartet.

Moreover, despite the opposition of the majority to the resumption of dialogue between the US and PA, a large minority approaching half of the public believes that the US is the most effective in influencing the decisions of the Palestinians and the Israelis on the matter of the renewal of the peace process.

Also on the peace process, the poll shows a decrease in the percentage of those who believe that armed struggle is the most effective means of ending the Israeli occupation and an increase in the percentage of those who believe that negotiation is the most effective. Nonetheless, armed struggle is viewed as more effective than negotiations.

The findings also show that the largest percentage of respondents believe the main Israeli motivation behind the labeling of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations is to weaken the ability of these organizations to document Israeli violations of human rights and to weaken the PA efforts to take Israelis to the International Criminal Court.

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