Abbas slips in polls as Hamas makes gains

Abbas slips in polls as Hamas makes gains

Latest survey shows that Palestinian president is losing popularity to Islamist arch rival

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90)

A recent survey found a marked drop in popularity for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in favor of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

The survey, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and published on Wednesday, showed that if a leadership vote were held now, Abbas would win 49 percent of the votes against 44% for Haniyeh. However, just three months ago, a similar survey gave Abbas 54% to Haniyeh’s 42%.

The rise in support for Hamas was explained by the institute as a response to the success of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi in the recent Egyptian elections, and continued reports of human rights abuses by Fatah, Haaretz reported.

The surveys sampled opinions in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Support for the two figures varied by location; Abbas had stronger support in the West Bank with a 7% lead over Haniyeh compared to just 4% in Gaza.

A wild card in Palestinian politics is imprisoned politician Marwan Barghouti, serving time in Israel for murder. The polls found that if Barghouti were to run against Haniyeh he would win some 60% of the vote. In a three-way contest, Barghouti would still prevail with 37% of the vote, Haniyeh would win 33%, and Abbas would trail behind with just 25% support.

A parliamentary election held now would give ruling Fatah 40% and Hamas 29% with the remaining 31% either voting for other parties or undecided.

The question of a successor to Abbas was also sampled, assuming Barghouti is not an option. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat received 17% of the votes and his closest rival, Fatah secretary Abu Maher Ghneim, 9% of the vote.

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