Abbas, Fayyad. Government losing popularity
Former Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti
The approval rating of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' government has dropped considerably since January, and the president would have trouble winning if elections were held now, according to a poll published Wednesday. The poll also indicated that Marwan Barghouti is by far the most popular Palestinian leader.
The poll was conducted among 1,200 Palestinians by an independent think tank, Arab World for Research and Development, on the background of growing Palestinian frustration over stalled peace talks with Israel and a stagnant economy. Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are being hurt by the lack of progress, according to poll conductor Nader Said.
''This goes to illustrate that Palestinians will always come back to the core issues,'' he said, referring to the creation of a Palestinian state and the issue of the division of Jerusalem. ''Not to make progress on these issues will harm the stakeholders trying to achieve a solution.''
In a presidential race, Barghouti, a former leader of Abbas' Fatah movement in the West Bank currently serving five life sentences in prison for his involvement in terror attacks, would comfortably defeat the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, by 47% to 29%. If Abbas were to run against Haniyeh, he would receive 32% to Haniyeh's 34%, according to the poll.
Abbas' term formally ends in January, but it remains unlikely that presidential elections would be held in the current political climate. His government, meanwhile, is slipping in popularity. Only 20% of respondents said Fayyad is doing a good job, compared to 31% in January.
In parliament elections, Fatah would win 47% of the vote, down from 53% in January. Hamas would come in second, with 37%, but has gained ground from its 32% rating in January.