01/23/2007, 00.00
PALESTINE
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Palestinians want new elections, would vote Abbas

Survey shows broad disillusionment with Hamas government. Personal safety tops list of most important issues. There is widespread belief that the halt to international assistance increased violence.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Palestinians want new parliamentary and presidential elections and current President Mahmoud Abbas would likely get most votes. For a majority the political and security situation today is worse that it was a year ago when Hamas won the elections. A majority is also convinced that the halt to foreign assistance has raised the level of violence in the region, this according to a recent survey whose results AsiaNews received today. . The survey was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), an independent polling institute founded in 1994 and directed by Nabil Kukali, a Christian scholar who teaches at Hebron University, in the West Bank.

Survey results were released a day after  Mr Abbas met a major Hamas leader in exile in Damascus to find a solution to the current Palestinian political crisis and lay down the bases for a national unity government. The talks, according to a joint statement by the two sides, made progress and should have follow-up that that would allow the creation of national unity government within two weeks.

The survey of 1015 randomly selected respondents was conducted between January 2 and 9. It indicates that 59.4 per cent of Palestinians are in favour of presidential elections (34.2 per cent “strongly” and 25.3 per cent “rather”); and 60.7 per cent (38.1 per cent “strongly” and 22.6 per cent “rather”) in favour of parliamentary elections.

In case of presidential elections 35.0 per cent would have voted for Mahmoud Abbas, 26 per cent for current Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and 21.8 per cent for Marwan Barghouti, leader of Fatah-Tanzim, currently held in an Israeli jail.

Palestinians are also very concerned about their personal safety (80.4 per cent) which they blame on last year’s Hamas electoral victory (76.1 per cent) compared to only 22.8 per cent who believe instead it has improved. Israel tops the list of causes for this worsening situation (25.6 per cent), followed by “the persistence of Hamas in its positions” (21.5 per cent), the “American intervention'” (19.3 per cent), or “the Prime Minister’s hesitation” (11.5 per cent).

For an overwhelming majority (77.2 per cent), the halt to international assistance following Hamas’s victory is a direct cause of the worsening situation.

A majority (74 per cent) of Palestinians consider current political conditions "bad' compared to a year ago against 24.2 per cent who said they were 'better' and (1.8 per cent) hesitated to answer the question.

As to whether last year’s election campaign promises were fulfilled, the survey shows that an overwhelming majority believes they were not. A majority, 64.7 per cent against 33.8 per cent, is sceptical about any real progress in “Reform and Change”; 67.8 per cent against 30.2 per cent is sceptical about “One hand building, the other hand resisting”; 74.3 per cent against 23.7 per cent does not believe that lawlessness had ended; and 65.2 per cent against 32.9 per cent did not think that corruption was defeated.

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