Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' secular Fatah movement would beat the radical Islamic Hamas movement if elections were held today, according to a Palestinian public opinion poll published Thursday.

Support for Hamas has nevertheless stabilized after months of decline, said the poll conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research.

The poll also found out that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Palestinians believe that Abbas' term as president should end on January 9, as Hamas demands, and a larger number demand holding early presidential and legislative elections, as Abbas wants, if internal Palestinian reconciliation talks fail.

74 percent of the respondents support the renewal of the ceasefire between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Israel. The
cease-fire ends December 19.

Hamas would get 28 percent of the Palestinian votes if elections were held today while Fatah would get a comfortable 42 percent lead. The previous poll conducted three months ago gave Hamas 29 percent compared to 43 percent for Fatah.

However, 20 percent remain undecided, which could easily tilt the balance in Hamas' favor when real elections take place.

Abbas' popularity as president declined from 53 percent three months ago to 48 per cent in the new poll. Hamas' candidate for president, its current leader Ismail Haniyeh, received 38 percent support in the new poll compared to 39 percent in the previous one.

The popularity of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti remains highest at 59 percent.

The poll also said 73 percent of the respondents support holding early presidential and legislative elections in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as Abbas demands, if dialogue between Fatah and Hamas collapses.

The poll was conducted between December 3 and 5 based on a sample of 1270 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The margin of error was 3 percent.


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