Itamar Sharon
The Jerusalem Post
June 10, 2008 - 4:53pm

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has received a boost in popularity in light of his recent efforts to reconcile with Hamas, while the terror organization's standing with the Palestinian public has declined, a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) shows.

According to the poll, whose results were released Saturday, if new presidential elections were held today - and given a choice between Abbas and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh - the former would receive the support of 52 percent and the latter 40%. This is a significant change from a poll conducted by the PSR in March, according to which Abbas would get 46%, compared to 47% for Haniyeh.

The PRS mentioned Hamas's failure in bringing about the reopening the Rafah border crossing and reaching a cease-fire deal with Israel as some of the possible reasons for its decline in popularity.

Abbas was also the more popular peacemaker, with 49% of the Palestinians saying that he was more able than Hamas to reach a peace agreement with Israel, while only 15% said the Hamas government was more able to do so.

Interestingly, 41% believed that the PA under Abbas was more able than Hamas's government to force Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians, while only 25% believed Hamas was more able to do so.

Fatah showed strength in several other areas: Its popularity over Hamas in potential parliamentary elections rose from seven percentage points in March (42% to Hamas's 35%) to 12 points today (43% to Hamas's 31%). Satisfaction with the performance of Abbas as well as PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad's government was also up.

As Fatah and Hamas head for reconciliation talks, 31% of the public said Fayad's government was the legitimate Palestinian government, while 29% said Haniyeh's administration was the legitimate one. Three months ago, Haniyeh's government was leading with 34% to Fayad's 29%.

Meanwhile, 57% of Palestinians said the deployment of Fatah security forces in some cities and towns in the West Bank has succeeded or somewhat succeeded in enforcing law and order. 34% said it has failed to do so.

The poll was conducted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between June 5 and 7, and interviewed 1,270 adults face-to-face in 127 randomly selected locations.


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