Poll: Fatah more popular than Hamas, but Hamas decline stops

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' secular Fatah movement would beat the radical Islamic Hamas movement if elections were held today, Palestinian public opinion poll published Thursday said.

Support for Hamas nevertheless stabilized after months of decline, said the poll conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, reported dpa.

The poll also found out that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of Palestinians believe that Abbas' term as president should end on January 9, as Hamas demands, and a larger number demand holding early presidential and legislative elections, as Abbas wants, if internal Palestinian reconciliation talks fail.

It also said 74 per cent of the respondents support renewal of the ceasefire between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Israel. The ceasefire ends December 19.

Hamas would get 28 per cent of the Palestinian votes if elections were held today while Fatah would get a comfortable lead of 42 per cent. The previous poll conducted three months ago gave Hamas 29 per cent compared to 43 per cent for Fatah.

However, 20 per cent remain undecided, which could easily tilt the balance in Hamas' favor when real elections take place.

Abbas' popularity as president declined from 53 per cent three months ago to 48 per cent in the new poll. Hamas' candidate for president, its current leader Ismail Haniya, received 38 per cent support in the new poll compared to 39 per cent in the previous one.

The popularity of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti remains highest and stood at 59 per cent.

The poll also said 73 per cent of the respondents support holding early presidential and legislative elections in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as Abbas demands, if dialogue between Fatah and Hamas collapses.

The poll was conducted between December 3 and 5 on a sample of 1270 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The margin of error was 3 per cent.

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