The Palestinian public is largely optimistic that the new unity government will be successful, and believes that its establishment does not shut down the possibility of a peace agreement with Israel, a recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) showed.

Public satisfaction with both PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas group, with which he forged a unity government, was on the rise, according to the results.

The survey, distributed to 1,270 adults in the West Bank and Gaza from 127 different areas, evaluated public attitudes from June 5 to 7 on the reconciliation agreement between Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas. The margin of error stood at 3 percent.

Overall, 62% of those surveyed believed the reconciliation deal would succeed in the long run. The rates of confidence in the agreement were significantly higher among Gaza Strip residents than in the West Bank, at 74% and 54% respectively.

The most pressing goal for the majority of respondents (46%) was establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with a capital in East Jerusalem, while nearly one-third (30%) felt that obtaining a right of return for Palestinians to their 1948 homes was most urgent. Those figures, compared to three months ago, showed a four percent increase for the Palestinian state priority, with the right of return declining by four percent.

Despite the adverse Israeli reaction to the Palestinian unity government, 59% of Palestinian respondents said the new deal does not signal the end of peace talks, and 59% said the unity government should ratify previous agreements with Israel.

The survey showed increased support for Hamas in past months, with 71% of respondents saying they want the terror group to run in the upcoming elections in six months, which more than half believe will take place as planned. The poll also showed that “Belief that Hamas’s way is the best way to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state” received a majority of support at 42%, while 39% said Abbas’s methods were most effective.

Yet despite the public support for the Gaza terror group, according to the poll, if elections were to be held today, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would not win a presidential vote against Abbas or the popular Fatah Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving out a life sentence in an Israeli prison for masterminding multiple lethal attacks against Israelis. However, in legislative elections, although Fatah would still lead with 40%, Hamas would likely get 32% of the vote — a 4% increase over three months ago.

Although Hamas’s popularity is seen to be on the rise and its methods to combat Israel lauded, a majority (62%) of Palestinians said they could envision the disarmament of Gaza terror groups at some future time. Among those polled, 19% said they would support it now, in light of the unity government; 12% said they would support it after elections; 16% would back the measure after “the ending of the Gaza siege”; and 15% after signing a peace deal with Israel.

Satisfaction with Abbas’s leadership jumped from 46% to 50% in the latest poll.

Domestic issues

In analyzing perceptions of domestic and economic issues, the poll discovered that Gazans were increasingly confident their conditions would improve in the coming years, with 57% maintaining it would only get better, and 9% saying it would get worse. In the West Bank, the outlook was far gloomier with 40% predicting it would get worse, and 27% believing it would improve.

Self-reports of those seeking to emigrate dipped slightly in Gaza from last March (41% as compared to 44%), but in the West Bank more sought to emigrate than before (24% as compared to 22%). Perceptions of corruption in PA institutions remain remarkably high at 81%, and only 32% in the West Bank and 28% in Gaza said residents could criticize the local government without fear.