Washington- As confidence in the peace process and the Palestinian Authority wanes, Palestinians appear to be concerned with their own internal needs. In a poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute (AAI) and conducted by Zogby International in the West Bank and Gaza Strip two weeks before Parliamentary elections, Palestinians rank issues in order of importance as: “release of prisoners” (from Israeli jails), “creating internal security,” “forging national unity,” “increasing employment,” and “fighting corruption.” Lower down the list of priority concerns are “confronting Israel” and “negotiating peace.”
“If Palestinians had any confidence that peace negotiations were possible and that their choice in the election would determine whether or not negotiations might occur, their choice on election day could be affected,” said AAI President James Zogby. “Because, for all intents and purposes, Israel’s unilateralism has foreclosed that possibility, Palestinians rank this issue lowest in importance and are making their choices on other grounds.”
The numbers indicate that Fateh is holding a lead over Hamas’, though Hamas is showing strength in both the West Bank and Gaza. With several minor candidates doing better than expected, the Fateh edge appears to have decreased in recent weeks. When asked which party will do a better job in addressing each of these issues, Fateh significantly outperforms Hamas, except when it comes to confronting Israel and fighting corruption where the two are in a statistical tie. Significantly, 75% of Palestinians polled believe Fateh would best negotiate peace with Israel.
Jailed Fateh activist Marwan Barghouti scores high in every district including Gaza, where he receives 85% favorability - the highest rating of any candidate. Salam Fayad, the former finance minister of the Palestinian Authority who has earned international praise and respect for transparency, receives a net positive rating, scoring highest in Nablus (West Bank), with 79% favorability.
Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent. AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities.