PA seeks Arab help to end talks unless freeze renewed

Poll shows Abbas’s popularity versus that of Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh improved since the second quarter of 2010.

October 5, 2010 01:52
3 minute read.
Amr Moussa and Mahmoud Abbas

311_Amr moussa and abbas. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Cairo on Monday for talks with President Hosni Mubarak on the latest crisis surrounding the direct talks with Israel.

Shortly after his arrival, Abbas met separately with Egyptian General Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and discussed the future of the negotiations in light of the Netanyahu government’s refusal to extend the freeze on settlement construction.

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Poll: ’Most Palestinians back direct talks'
Netanyahu: The Palestinians must show some flexibility

Abbas, who was scheduled to meet with Mubarak on Tuesday, is seeking Arab backing for his decision to stay away from the talks unless Israel renews the moratorium, a PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post.

“The Arab countries must support us in the wake of heavy pressure from the Americans to continue with the negotiations while the construction is going on in the settlements,” the official said. “Without such backing, we can’t move forward with anything.”

Abbas’s discussions in Cairo come ahead of an Arab League meeting in Libya on Friday to discuss the repercussions of the resumption of construction in the settlements. The meeting is being held at the request of the PA leadership, which has announced that it will not return to the negotiating table while the work in the settlements is under way.

Meanwhile, two-thirds (66 percent) of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip want the PA to pull out of the direct talks, according to a new public opinion poll published on Monday.

Only 30% of the Palestinians said the PA should not withdraw from the talks.

The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip last week after the end of the moratorium.

The poll covered 1,270 Palestinians and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

More than half of the respondents supported Hamas’s terrorist attack against Jewish settlers near Hebron on the eve of the direct talks’ launch in Washington. Four Israelis were killed in the drive-by shooting.

According to the poll, the balance of power between Fatah and Hamas, in terms of popular support for each, has remained unchanged since the second quarter of this year.

However, Abbas’s popularity versus that of Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh improved during that period, the results showed.

This means that Abbas and his Fatah faction have not lost public support by going to the direct talks with Israel and by cracking down on Hamas following the terrorist attack. Still, the overwhelming majority of those polled opposed the anti-Hamas clampdown.

About 70% of the Palestinians, the poll showed, believe there is corruption in the PA institutions in the West Bank, as opposed to 60% who think the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip is corrupt.

The results also indicated that the Palestinians remain divided in their opinion about their two governments.

Twenty-six percent said the Hamas government was the legitimate Palestinian government, while 30% said they considered Salam Fayyad’s government the legitimate one.

Another 30% said they saw both governments as illegitimate.

If presidential elections were held today and only two candidates were nominated, Abbas would receive the support of 57% of the Palestinians, while Haniyeh would get only 36%, according to the poll.

In a poll last June, Abbas received 54% and Haniyeh 39%.

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