The death of activist Nizar Banat and last May's 11 day war in Gaza weigh on popularity. Consensus for Hamas grows: 45% of citizens feel represented by the extremist movement, only 19% by Fatah. Khalil Shikaki: the "worst poll" since the leader came to power.
Ramallah (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Nearly 80% of Palestinians want the resignation of President Mahmoud Abbas, in a climate of widespread resentment towards the leadership of the Palestinian Authority following the death of an activist in Security Forces custody and the violent repression of popular protest.
Research published by the experts of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research also shows that support for Hamas' rivals remains high eight months after last May's 11 day war in Gaza. In this regard, the widespread opinion is that of a "victory" of the extremist movement against Israel and of a marginal role at the time of Abbas himself.
In the latest poll carried out by the Palestinian research center it emerges that 45% of citizens would like to be led and represented by Hamas; the secular movement Fatah, of the leader Abu Mazen, gather the trust of 19% of the population, slightly up from the slump of the past months. This is the "worst poll" for the PA president, points out research center director Khalil Shikaki, who adds that Abbas "has never been in such a bad position as he is today."
Despite his declining popularity and refusal to hold elections, the international community still regards the 85-year-old Abbas as the leader of the Palestinian cause and a crucial partner in the peace process with Israel, which has been interrupted for more than a decade. The PA administers parts of the West Bank under interim agreements signed with Israel at the height of the peace process in the 1990s. Hamas drove Abbas's forces out of Gaza in 2007, a year after winning parliamentary elections.
Abbas' declining popularity plummeted further in April, following the cancellation of the first vote in 15 years over fears of a heavy defeat to Hamas rivals. The extremist movement continues to grow in the ratings because it is considered closer to the problems of the population and ready to fight to support them, also and above all against the so-called Israeli "occupation".
The death of Nizar Banat, critical voice of the AP, who died after being beaten by the Palestinian security forces during a detention, has fueled protests throughout the West Bank, with calls for Abbas to resign. In response, local authorities launched a violent crackdown with the arrest of numerous protesters. 78% of people polled want Abu Mazen to resign, only 19% believe he should remain in office. 63% of Palestinians think that Banat was killed on the orders of the Ap leadership and only 22% consider the affair a mistake and believe the version of the ruling leadership.
For 69% of respondents, the response to the authority's affair, with the promise of a trial for 14 officials responsible for the activist's detention, is "insufficient." 63% of the 1,270 respondents in the survey between the West Bank and Gaza support the demonstrations that broke out after Banat's death, and 74% believe that the arrest of the protesters constitutes a violation of civil liberties and rights.