On the eve of the formation of the new Palestinian government, a public opinion poll by the Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip showed that support for the Islamic political movement, Hamas, is on the rise among Palestinians, while the previously ruling party, Fatah, has been steadily losing support.

The poll also showed that a majority of Palestinians want a continuation of the peace process and the implementation of the ‘Road Map for Peace’.

The following are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during March 16-18, 2006. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%.

* If elections were held today, 47% would vote for Hamas and 39% for Fatah. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas would receive 51% of the vote and Fatah 37%. (In this poll 46% said that on the day of the elections in January 25, they voted for Hamas and 44% said they voted for Fatah. The actual official figures of the Palestinian Central Elections commission gave only 44% for Hamas and 41% for Fatah.)

* In the view of 37% of the public, Hamas won the parliamentary elections because voters wanted first and foremost an Islamic Palestinian authority that rules according to religious Sharia. But 36% believe that Hamas won because voters wanted first and foremost a clean authority that fights corruption, 9% said voters wanted first and foremost a strong authority that ends anarchy, and 7% said voters wanted first and foremost a fighting authority that resists occupation.

* In the view of 52%, Fatah lost the elections because voters wanted first and foremost to punish it for the spread of corruption while 19% think it lost first and foremost because it was divided and leaderless, and 17% because it failed to end anarchy, and 5% because of the peace process

* 70% expect Hamas to succeed, and 22% expect it to fail, in leading and managing the Palestinian Authority. 69% are not worried and 30% are worried about their personal freedoms now that Hamas has won the elections.

* 68% believe the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot manage without international financial support and 50% expect that support to be terminated. But 78% believe that Hamas will find alternative Arab and Islamic sources.  59% believe Hamas should not recognize Israel (despite international pressure to do so), and 37% believe it should.

* 75% say that Hamas should engage Israel in peace negotiations. 64% identify themselves as supporters of the peace process and only 14% say they are opposed to the peace process. 53% want the newly elected authority to implement the Road Map and 49% want it to collect arms from the armed factions while 21% do not want it to interfere in the arms of the factions and 27% say the PA should enact laws that allow the factions to keep their arms. 82% support integrating armed groups in the Palestinian security services.

* 93% believe the US and Britain are implicated in the Israeli attack on the Jericho jail and the arrest of Ahmad Sa’adat. But a majority of 51% supports only peaceful Palestinian responses to that or no response at all. A total of 46% support various responses ranging from attacking and burning offices, kidnapping of American and British nationals, or even armed attacks against American and British nationals.

* In other domestic affairs:

– 44% want to give the Palestinian Legislative Council more powers than the PA president while 19% want the opposite and 32% want to give the two equal powers.

– 44% believe the most serious problem confronting the Palestinians today is unemployment and poverty, 25% believe it is the continuation of the occupation, and 24% believe it is corruption and lack of reforms.

– 75% say they and their families do not feel secure and safe under the Palestinian Authority

– 91% say there is corruption in the PA today, but for the first time since 1996, 65% among those think that corruption will decrease in the future.

-These numbers are based on the poll result conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip