Most Palestinians want Abbas out, call for elections: poll

Latest public opinion poll shows two-thirds of Palestinians want their leader Mahmoud Abbas to resign.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A Palestinian public opinion poll released Tuesday showed that two-thirds of the Arabs in Gaza, Judea and Samaria want the resignation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and a majority of Palestinians are optimistic about the election of Joe Biden and support holding dialogue with the new U.S. administration.

The findings of the poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) showed that three-quarters of the Palestinian public demand the holding of general legislative and presidential elections, but only a third or less expects the PA to hold them. Fully two-thirds, 66% of the public, want Abbas to resign while only 30% want him to remain in office.

Abbas, 85, was elected in 2005 for a four-year term and said at the time he would not stand for re-election. Despite repeated promises by Palestinian leaders, no national elections have been held since. The Palestinian leadership is split between Abbas’ Fatah Party, which rules from Ramallah, and the Hamas terror group that seized power from Fatah in Gaza in a bloody 2007 military coup.

Respondents to the poll said that if Palestinian elections were held now, 69% of the people would vote with 34% saying they will vote for Hamas and 38% for Fatah; 10% would vote for other parties and 19% are undecided. Those numbers are mostly unchanged from a previous poll three months ago.

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If new presidential elections were held today between Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader would win with 50% of the vote to 43% for Abbas, compared to 52% for Haniyeh and 39% for Abbas three months ago.

However, if the race was between jailed Fatah terrorist Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, Barghouti would win with 61% of the vote. If current Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh was the Fatah candidate, it would be a close race with each getting 47% of the vote, an improvement in Shtayyeh’s popularity from three months ago when only 41% of respondents supported him.

Palestinians also do not have much faith in their electoral system, with 52% saying that under current conditions they do not think elections would be fair and free. Seventy-six percent of the respondents think that if Hamas wins the elections, Fatah will not accept the results, while 58% think if Fatah wins the elections, Hamas will not accept the results.

The poll results come as armed clashes are increasing in Palestinian-controlled areas between locals who serve various interest groups and forces loyal to Abbas, in apparent power struggles in advance of the day when Abbas is no longer able to rule, Makor Rishon reported on Tuesday.

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The poll also showed the election of Joe Biden to the White House raised hopes, with 58% of respondents expecting an improvement in Palestinian-American relations. Just over two-thirds expect a Biden administration to resume economic aid to the PA, and 52% expect Biden to allow the reopening of the PLO diplomatic mission in the U.S. capital, which had been ordered closed by President Trump.

At the same time, only 44% support and 49% oppose the resumption of peace negotiations with Israel under U.S. leadership, while only 29% of respondents expect Biden to abandon Trump’s Middle East peace plan and only a quarter of Palestinians think Biden will move the U.S. Embassy back to Tel Aviv.

The PSR is headed by veteran pollster Dr. Khalil Shikaki, who has a PhD in political science from Columbia University. The latest poll was conducted December 8-11 with responses from 1,270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations and a margin of error of +/-3%.