10/23/2006, 00.00
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A majority of Palestinians in favour of early elections

A survey indicates a generally more positive attitude towards Abbas' performance than Haniyeh's. More than 91 per cent opposes attacks against churches in reaction to Benedict XVI's remarks on Islam against 7.9 per cent in favour.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – A majority of Palestinians is against the Hamas government's position on the quartet's (UN, EU, US and Russia) conditions for solving the current regional impasse. A majority also favours early elections and a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and evaluates more positively the performance of the Palestinian president than that of the Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who, however, is still considered the most reliable political leader. These are some of the main findings of the latest public opinion by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), an independent Palestinian public opinion research company set up in 1994 and run by Nabil Kukali, a Christian, who is also professor at Hebron University, in the West Bank.

The survey shows that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians (91 per cent) is opposed to attacks against Christian churches in reaction to what Benedict XVI said about Islam. Still, 7.9 per cent declared that they were in favour.

The most significant results, according to Kukali, are that a majority of Palestinians  (52.7 per cent) opposes the government's refusal to adhere to the international quartet's conditions and 61.4 per cent is in favour of an Abbas-Olmert meeting.

Attitudes towards Abbas and Haniyeh are also interesting. The performance of the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is considered very good by 14.3 per cent of respondents, good by 31.6 per cent for a total of 45.9 per cent positive evaluation compared to 24.6 per cent that views it as mediocre and 28.3 per cent as bad or very bad. 

The performance by the Palestinian prime minister is seen as very good by 17.5 per cent of the respondents and good by 22.5 per cent for a total 40 per cent favourable response; for another 26.2 and 32 per cent his performance was either mediocre or bad or very bad.

Attitudes towards Abbas seem also to reflect on the PNA. A large majority of Palestinians (61.8 per cent) is opposed to dissolving the PNA against 35.5 per cent who would like to see it go. By contrast, 65.2 per cent would like to see the Executive Force, a parallel police run by Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, disbanded.

Although the survey did not ask people for which party they would cast their ballot, they were asked whether they were in favour of early elections: 37.1 per cent said they were strongly in favour, 20.4 per cent somewhat in favour for a total of 57.5 per cent compared to 40.8 per cent against. On whether there should be early presidential elections, only 42.5 per cent said yes and 54.7 per cent said no.

Despite such results, current Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh remains the most popular candidate to succeed himself in any new government. In an open question where respondents had to write in their choice, Haniyeh topped the list of some 20 names with 30.1 per cent of support, far ahead of the second best, Mohammad Dahlan, who got 10.8 per cent, and Marwan Bargouthi who came in third at 7.2 per cent.

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