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March 21, 2019 9:48 am

As Economic Rallies Continue in Gaza, Poll Finds Decreased Support for Hamas Leader

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Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures as he delivers a speech in Gaza City, Jan. 23, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem. – According to a poll by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas would win a presidential race against Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh if votes were held today.

The survey, published on Tuesday, shows a drop in support for Haniyeh, who enjoyed 49 percent support in a December 2018 poll, as opposed to the 41 percent he received on Tuesday.

In that poll, 42 percent of those surveyed said they would support Abbas—9 percent less than the 51 percent who said they would vote for him in the most current survey.

The polls were taken after Hamas was reported to be violently suppressing protests in Gaza against the increased cost of living, high unemployment rates and economic distress.

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The poll also found that 48 percent of Palestinians favor a two-state solution while 50 percent oppose. In the December poll, 55 percent said that they rejected a two-state solution.

The most recent poll was taken between March 13-16 in Gaza, Judea and Samaria at 127 locations, surveying 1,270 people.

The Palestinian Authority has not held presidential elections in 14 years, ever since Abbas was elected to a four-year term in 2005.

Though Abbas’s Fatah-led government originally took control of Gaza when Israel unilaterally handed power of the region to the PA after a controversial and difficult expulsion of the Jewish community living there in 2005, Hamas staged a violent coup and took over Gaza leadership in 2007. Repeated efforts at reconciliation have consistently met with failure.

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