A clear majority of Palestinians, if given the opportunity, would favor the Palestinian Legislative Council to hold both presidential (86.9%) and parliamentary (82.8%) elections, according to a recent study conducted by members of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation.
The poll showed that while favoring elections, the Palestinian populations is split on which party, faction or independent candidate they would vote for. A noteworthy 86.6% of those polled rejected the notion of holding elections without the participation of the Gaza Strip and 78.4% said that they would unilaterally reject land swaps involved in future peace agreements involving Israel.
While the two dominating Palestinian political factions are Fatah and Hamas, there also exists a coalition of “leftist political parties” founded in 2018 called the Palestinian Democratic Assembly. According to these polls, this new faction would garner about 9.9% of the parliamentary votes, while 34.8% would vote for Fatah and 12% for Hamas. A little less than third of those polled, 31.1%, would abstain and choose not to vote at all.
“If elections were held without [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas running, Marwan Barghouthi would win 12.6% of the votes, followed by Mohammed Dahlan at 8.1%, and [Hamas’s] Ismail Haniyeh [of the Gaza Strip] at 6.3%. Meanwhile, over half of the respondents, 53.9%, said they did not know or they had no answer,” according to the study.
The poll demonstrated major discrepancies between electoral tendencies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Those located in Gaza were more confident in who they would like to vote for, compared to the West Bank (69% compared to 31.7% in confidence of choice of candidate).
However, only about half of the population felt confidence in the of fairness of elections, with people in the Gaza Strip showing more trust in the establishment than those in the West Bank.
“The percentage of those who believe elections would be fair was 51.1% in the Gaza Strip as opposed to 38.3% in the West Bank. Conversely, the percentage of those polled who thought elections would be unfair was 50.2% in the West Bank, opposed to 37.5% in Gaza,” the study read.
At the moment, the Palestinian government has no unilateral form of social security. There was a motion to pass legislation to provide social security to the public last year – such as health insurance, pensions and unemployment security – however, the law never came into fruition. Almost 28% said the reason for this was due to a lack of confidence in the government to appropriate the funds in the correct way, while others argued that it was due to the low wages of workers being unable to cover the contributions the fund needed to be successful.
National reconciliation seems to be of clear importance to those polled, by a clear majority. However, blame for the division seems to be of great controversy – 32.2% blamed both Hamas and Fatah, 16% Hamas alone and 8.8% blaming Fatah.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked senior Fatah official Mohammed Shtayyeh to form a new government that would “enhance the culture of peace and support the families of prisoners and martyrs,” early last month – a move that one-third of the Palestinian population approves.
Shtayyeh is set to replace
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who resigned last January.
“Almost half of the Palestinian public, 49.7%, said there would be no difference between the performances of the two governments,” the study wrote. “Regarding the public’s expectations of the new government, 36.3% of respondents said that it should improve living conditions, 16.6% said they expected it to combat corruption, 16% said they expected government reforms and 15.3% expecting it to achieve national reconciliation.”
HAMAS IMMEDIATELY rejected Abbas’s decision to form a new “separatist” government, and said the move would solidify the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas said that it will not recognize the new government.
Shtayyeh, 61, is a politician and economic expert from a village near Nablus. He previously served as PA minister of housing and head of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction.
Shtayyeh, who is also a member of the Fatah Central Committee, holds a doctorate in economic development from the University of Sussex in the UK.
In the letter of appointment, Abbas wrote to Shtayyeh that the new government’s top priority should be “to support the decisions of the Palestinian leadership, which include restoring national unity and bringing Gaza back to the bosom of national legitimacy.”
With regards to diplomatic leadership and relations with the outside world, there are many discrepancies in what policies the Palestinian population would like to adopt in order best improve their current government and living situations.
A majority of the population (73.8%) oppose the newly established diplomatic in-roads between Arab countries and Israel, such as Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – in addition, over 60% of those polled are opposed to continued coordination between the Palestinian National Authority and Israel itself. While the same majority also support the boycotted and frozen relationship recently established between the United States and the PA – over 65% of the polled Palestinians say also say that if the US announces its coveted deal that the PA should reject it, while the minority believe they should at least negotiate, presumably without seeing the initial offer.
The Palestinian people for the most part favor the separation between themselves and Israel, and would like more independent and secure avenues to become self-sufficient.
“The majority of those polled, 78.4%, said they would not accept any Peace Agreement that included land swaps between Israel and the State of Palestine, opposed to 17.1% who said this would be acceptable. Furthermore, the majority of respondents, 83.9%, said they would not accept any future Peace Agreement that includes continued Israeli security control over parts of the Palestinian state,” according to the study. “Almost two-thirds of respondents, 63.4%, said it was not acceptable for any future peace deal to include the integration of Palestinian refugees in neighboring Arab countries, while 32.3% said this was acceptable to them.”
All in all, the Palestinian public shares an overall want for change, independence, new leadership and trust in that leadership. While there is much division between factions, religious or political, many steps are being made to ensure that change may be around the corner.
Even though tensions between Hamas and Fatah have intensified in the past few months as the two Palestinian rival parties continue to exchange allegations and insults, the division between Hamas and Fatah is at most importance, and the reconciliation is important for the Palestinian state to move forward, according to the public polls.
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