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'Gazans seek elections as Hamas support declines'
ByGABRIELLA TZVIA WEINIGER
February 21, 2013 19:51
AWRAD poll shows support for Hamas declined since December; 68% support negotiations if Israel halts settlement construction.
Palestinian children celebrate Hamas founding, Dec. 8, 2012

Palestinian children celebrate Hamas founding 370. (photo credit:REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)

Support for Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza has declined by four percentage points to 18 percent since December, according to a poll published Thursday.

The poll, conducted by the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), said that while support for Hamas was down, support for Fatah was back to its July 2012 level (42%), an increase from 37% in December.



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According to the survey, 95% of Gazans support holding legislative and presidential elections immediately, as do 82% of West Bank respondents.

Settlement building in the West Bank appeared to be the biggest obstacle to peace, with the poll showing 68% of respondents supporting a return to negotiations if Israel were to stop construction.

Following this, 65% of those surveyed said they opposed a third intifada. A majority also believe that popular protest activities such as the erection of a protest camp at Bab al- Shams in the E1 corridor have a real impact on ending the “occupation.”

Regarding the effect of last November’s Operation Pillar of Defense, 53% said the latest confrontations and resulting cease-fire in Gaza would not lead to real change in Palestinian affairs.

Approval ratings for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stood at 58% in the poll, compared to 45% for Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Pitted against each other in a presidential race, Abbas could potentially receive 64% of the votes compared with 36% for Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal or Haniyeh, the poll showed.

The survey was conducted among 1,200 Palestinians, with a margin of error of 3%.
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