Majority of Palestinians oppose suspension of elections

Public fears action will "ultimately amount to their cancellation."

September 26, 2016 19:30
2 minute read.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks with Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (unseen)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks with Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (unseen) as they review the honor guard in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (photo credit: REUTERS)

An overwhelming majority of Palestinians opposes the Palestinian Authority High Court’s decision to suspend municipal elections that were supposed to take place on October 8 in the West Bank and Gaza, a new public opinion poll has found.

Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD) conducted a poll between September 18-21 on the PA court’s decision, sampling 1,200 persons from the West Bank and Gaza.

Sixty-eight percent of Palestinians, 66% of West Bank and 72% of Gaza Palestinians said they oppose the High Court’s decision.

AWRAD president Nader Said told The Jerusalem Post that most Palestinians opposed suspending the elections because they are particularly concerned about daily issues and services such as water, electricity and general infrastructure.

“There is a sense that municipal elections would lead to the development of these services in near future,” he said, adding that there is “a large and justified suspicion that suspending the elections will ultimately amount to their cancellation.”

The poll also found 56% of Palestinians, 50% of West Bank and 67% of Gaza Palestinians were upset when they found out about the PA High Court’s decision.

Gazans were exceptionally disappointed in the suspension of the elections because of their desire to see change, according to Said. “In light of the political, social and electoral stagnation in Gaza in the past 10 years, Gazans want to see change,” he said.

Results of a polls set to be released on Tuesday indicate that 82% of Gazans disapprove of Hamas’s governance in Gaza.

Moreover, the poll determined that a plurality of West Bank Palestinians (47%) holds the PA responsible for the elections’ suspension, whereas plurality of Gaza Palestinians (44%) holds Hamas responsible.

Of the other various powers held responsible by those surveyed, none polled higher than 20%.

AWRAD has consistently found that West Bank and Gazan Palestinians each hold their own rulers to a higher standard than they do rulers of their counterparts, Said said.

“We call this phenomenon ‘the grass is greener on the other side,’” he said. “Basically, Gaza’s residents are frustrated with Hamas’s rule and West Bank residents are frustrated with the PA’s rule, leading everyone to believe the other’s governor is more trustworthy.”

Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007, and the Fatah-dominated PA has controlled the West Bank since the establishment of the PA in 1994.

AWRAD’s poll was the first to survey Palestinian opinion on the suspension of the municipal elections.

The PA High Court will reconvene on October 3 to decide the future of the municipal elections.

The PA has not hosted elections in the West Bank and Gaza since the 2006 parliamentary elections.

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