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The new unity government deal with Hamas has given Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a boost in popularity, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The poll showed Abbas nine percentage points ahead of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, 54 to 45 percent, when asked about which leaders the people trust. The two were virtually tied for the last three months.
The poll, conducted by the Ramallah-based independent polling company Neareast Consulting, was conducted by telephone among 759 Palestinians and quoted a margin of error of 3.56 percentage points.
"People have probably felt that (Abbas) did more to bring this unity government together than others," said Jamil Rabah, who heads the polling firm.
Rabah said most Palestinians saw the unity deal as primarily a tool to put internal Palestinian affairs in order, with only 4 percent of respondents saying that making peace with Israel was a priority. The majority saw that ending chaos and infighting between Palestinians as the top priority of the new government.
While 68 percent felt the unity government would succeed in lifting the international sanctions by bringing Fatah into the fold, Rabah said, only 16 percent thought the government would be able to improve economic conditions.
Also, almost one-third thought the unity government would survive less than six months, the poll found.