A majority of Palestinians support the negotiations with Israel and believe that the talks serve the national interest of the Palestinian people, according to a poll published on Thursday.

The survey, which was conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, also showed a rise in the popularity of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.

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The poll was conducted between September 11 and 15 in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and covered 1,200 Palestinians.

Fifty-four percent of the respondents said that the direct talks, which were launched earlier this month, serve the national interests of the Palestinians. However, 58% said they believed the Palestinian leadership agreed to hold the talks because of external pressure.

More than 55% of the Palestinians, nevertheless, said they did not expect the talks to produce major changes in the status quo, the survey showed.

While more than half of those polled said that negotiations were the most effective way to achieve Palestinians’ goals, 25% said they believed in the “armed resistance” as the best way to fight Israel.

With regards to the status of Palestinian political figures, the poll showed that Abbas’s popularity has risen from 15% last April to 19% in September.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh came in second place, while jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti was No. 3.

They were followed by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, top Fatah official Muhammad Dahlan and political activist Mustafa Barghouti.

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