06/10/2008, 00.00
PALESTINE
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Palestinians more confident in Abbas, less toward Hamas

A survey conducted in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shows that if a presidential election were held, Abbas would win 52% of the vote, against 42% for Haniyeh. Only three months ago, the Hamas prime minister would have received more votes. Hamas would also lose in case of parliamentary elections, being outstripped by Fatah.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Among Palestinians, PNA president Mahmoud Abbas is becoming more popular, while Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is losing ground.  This is the unexpected result of a survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which reverses the results of a similar survey conducted in March. Abbas is making progress above all because of his credibility for arriving at a peace agreement with Israel.

According to the survey, conducted in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, if the presidential election were held today and the choice were between Abbas and Haniyeh, the former would win 52% of the vote, against 40% for the Hamas prime minister.  In March, in the same scenario, Abbas would have won 46% of the vote, Haniyeh 47%.

Working in favour of the current president of the PNA is the conviction of 49% of Palestinians that he is more capable than Hamas (which obtains only 15% of the vote) of conducting peace negotiations; 41% of those interviewed, moreover, are convinced that he would obtain more concessions from the Jewish state than Haniyeh would (25%).

Hamas is also charged with having been unable to obtain the reopening of the border at Rafah, or a cease-fire with Israel.

But it is not only Abbas himself who is seeing a gain in the confidence of the population.  If parliamentary elections were held, his party, Fatah, would receive 43% of the vote, Hamas 31%.  In March, the figures were 42% against 35%.  The separation between the two political parties has doubled, from 6 to 12%.

And even the government of Salam Fayad has reversed its position of popularity.  In March, 34% of Palestinians viewed as "legitimate" prime minister Haniyeh, the winner of the last political elections, against 29% for Fayad, who was appointed prime minister after Hamas seized the Gaza Strip.  Today, Fayad obtains 31% support, while Haniyeh loses 5%, dropping to 29%.

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