Anger among Palestinians over President Mahmoud Abbas' original
position on a Gaza war report critical
of Israel has cost him public support in a rivalry with Hamas,
a poll showed on Sunday.
The survey, published Sunday by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre (JMCC) indicated Abbas would receive 16.8% of the vote, with Hamas Islamist leader Ismail Haniyeh running neck-and-neck with 16%, if a presidential election was held now.
In terms of overall popularity in the West Bank and in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Abbas' rating dropped to 12.1% from 17.8% in the previous JMCC poll in June. Haniyeh's approval rating held steady at 14.2 percent.
Abbas, whose Fatah party lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in fighting in 2007, has said his administration erred in approving a UN decision in Geneva two weeks ago to delay action on the report on the December-January Gaza war.
He was widely believed to have bowed to US pressure over the matter, taking a stance that surprised and angered many Palestinians and, according to the JMCC, led to his popularity decline in the new poll.
Abbas reversed course last week.
According to the poll, 18.1% of Palestinians claim the US United States is to blame for the deferral of the UN council's vote on the Goldstone Report, while 17.2% said Israel is responsible. A ratio of 14.5% said the Arab countries are to blame for deferring the voting.
In a special session proposed by the Palestinians, the UN Human Rights Council on Friday endorsed the report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes but was more critical of Israeli actions.
The council passed a resolution that singled out Israel for censure without referring to any wrongdoing by Hamas.
Abbas has said he would proceed with plans to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in January unless Hamas agreed to a deal proposed by Egypt to delay the ballot until June.
Egypt has been trying to mediate a reconciliation pact between Fatah, which has accepted the unity proposal, and Hamas, which is still weighing the plan.
With regard to US President Barack Obama, the ratio of respondents who said that there was an improvement in the US’ dealing with the Middle East's problems went down from 40.6% last June
to 25% in this poll.
In the same manner, the ratio of those noting deterioration in the US Administration's performance
on the Middle East issues rose from 6.6% last June to 12.8% in this poll.
Moreover, the ratio of Palestinians who believe that the US policy in the region would raise chances of achieving a just peace went down from 35.4% last June to 23.7%, the survey showed.
The JMCC said it interviewed 1,200 people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between Oct. 7 and 11, a few days after the Palestinian Authority agreed to defer the UN report. It said the poll had a margin of error of three percent.