11/07/2006, 00.00
PALESTINE
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Survey shows most Palestinians concerned about worsening economic situation

Poll shows that more than four Palestinians in five are concerned by their families' sheer survival. Almost two in three are pessimistic about the future; last year they were less than one in three.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – A recent public opinion poll shows that Palestinians feel they are worse off now compared to a year ago and are pessimistic about the possibility for any improvements. They blame the United States and Israel, but also Hamas more than Fatah.

According to a survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), an independent public opinion research institution founded in 1994 by Nabil Kukali, a Christian who teaches at Hebron University in the West Bank, "sheer survival" of one's family has become more important than personal security (80.9 per cent vs. 78.6 per cent).

The most significant result, according to Kukali, is that "pessimism is rising among the Palestinians about the possibility of improving the economic and political conditions". In fact, 62,3 per cent of respondents are pessimistic, up 33.2 per cent from 29,1 per cent registered in a poll released on September 13, 2005.

Kukali stressed that more than three quarters (78.1 per cent) view their economic situation as bad, up 24.8 per cent over last year when it was 53.3 per cent.

Asked "to what extent are you worried about the sheer survival of your family at present, 43.7 per cent said "worried" and 37.2 per cent, "very worried"; 13 per cent said "not very worried", and only 4.7 per cent "not worried at all".

As for the overall perception of the economic situation of the territories under the Palestinian Authority, 78.1 per cent consider it "bad". Another 19.4 per cent view it as mediocre. Only 2 per cent think of it as good.

When asked how the future will be, 22.1 per cent said "better" against 49.2 per cent who said it would get "worse" and 26.9 per cent who believe it will" remain the same".

The deteriorating economic situation is blamed especially on the United States (30.6 percent) and Israel (28.4 per cent). But Hamas also comes in for criticism; 24,6 per cent of respondents blame the ruling party compared to only 12,2 per cent who blame Fatah. Another 3.1 per cent blames Europe.

Most Palestinians negatively view future political and economic developments: 62,3 per cent is pessimist compared to 34.9 per cent who are optimist.

Security remains the single most important issue (35.2 per cent), followed by work/money (30.2 per cent), the future  (22,1 per cent) and health care (12.5 per cent).

Looking at security, respectively 29.3 and  49.3 per cent said they were "very worried" and "worried" compared to 14,3 per cent who said they were not "very worried" and another 5.8 per cent that was "not at all worried".

As for the "How much are you in general happy with your life?" the average on a one-to-ten scale was 4.77 this year down 5.67 last year.

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