RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP) – The popularity of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has risen while Hamas’s has fallen, in a reversal of the trend three months ago, according to an opinion poll released on Monday.
Abbas has a 12 percentage point lead over Ismail Haniya, who heads the Hamas government that seized control of the Gaza Strip a year ago, the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research said.
If elections were held now Abbas would get 52 percent support and Haniya 40 percent, according to the survey of 1,270 adults conducted between June 5 and 7 in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza, the centre said.
A previous poll in mid-March put Haniya’s popularity rating at 47 percent as support for Abbas, leader of the rival Fatah movement, fell to 46 percent.
The Palestinian pollsters linked the increase in the president’s popularity to his call last week for reconciliation talks with Hamas.
The Islamist movement’s standing, on the other hand, appeared to have been affected by its failure to achieve the opening of Egypt’s border with Gaza and Israeli agreement on a ceasefire.
The poll showed 46 percent of Palestinians were satisfied with the performance of Abbas, a US-backed moderate who succeeded legendary leader Yasser Arafat at the head of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Haniya, who served as prime minister in the Hamas-led unity government that Abbas fired in June 2007 as the Islamists routed his forces in Gaza.
In legislative elections, Abbas’s Fatah movement would get 43 percent, compared with 42 percent in March, and Hamas 31 percent, down from 35 percent.
The survey’s margin of error was three percentage points.