11/12/2009, 00.00
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Palestinian presidential elections still in doubt

Hamas’ refusal to allow elections in the Gaza Strip appears to be the main reason. A survey by the Arab World for Research and Development indicates that 74 per cent of the people in the West Bank and Gaza want elections in January. The study also shows criticism for Hamas, whose stance “reinforces the Israeli assertions about the non existence of a Palestinian partner”
Ramallah (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The body responsible for organising Palestinian elections in January wants to put off the vote scheduled for 24 January.  “The Committee will recommend postponing elections because Hamas has rejected elections in Gaza,” a senior Fatah official, who declined to give his name, told Reuters. A final decision will be made after the Central Elections Commission meets with President Mahmoud Abbas.

News about a possible postponement to the elections comes at time when the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD) research centre released results of a public opinion poll about Palestinian attitudes towards the election.

The AWRAD study shows that 74 per cent of respondents support President Abbas’ call for election on 24 January. If elections were held today, Abbas would get 65 per cent of the vote, against 35 for his challengers, and this despite the fact that the Palestinian president announced his intention not to run for re-election (see “Mahmoud Abbas not to seek re-election,” in AsiaNews, 6 November 2009)

About 70 per cent of West Bank and Gaza respondents have a positive attitude towards Abbas’s latest speech. In Gaza, 66 per cent agree that “the most dangerous event that took place during the last five years is the Hamas take-over of authority in Gaza.”

About 55 per cent of the respondents agree with the President’s view that the Islamic resistance movement’s refusal to accept the plan to settle its differences with Fatah plays into the hands of Israel, which can claim that it has no “Palestinian partner.”  In Gaza, almost 66 per cent of respondents share this view.

The survey also indicates that 74 per cent of participants are against the call by the United States to the Israelis and Palestinians to go back to the negotiations without (pre-conditions) including the Palestinian request to freeze the settlements’ expansion around Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

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