73% of Palestinians want Abbas to step down - poll

The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), also showed that if new presidential elections were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would defeat Abbas.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas makes a speech during a Palestinian Central Council meeting in Ramallah, February 6, 2022. (photo credit: PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT OFFICE (PPO)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas makes a speech during a Palestinian Central Council meeting in Ramallah, February 6, 2022.
(photo credit: PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT OFFICE (PPO)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Neither Hamas nor the ruling Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas deserve to represent and lead the Palestinian people, according to a public opinion poll published over the weekend.While 33% said that neither side deserves such a role, 31% believe that Hamas is slightly more deserving than Fatah under Abbas, which polled 29%.

The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), also showed that if presidential elections were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would defeat the 86-year-old Abbas.

The poll, conducted from March 16-20, surveyed 1,200 Palestinians and has a three percent margin of error.

If only Abbas and Haniyeh were nominated, Haniyeh would receive 54% of the votes, and Abbas 38%.

Abbas performed slightly better this time, although the difference was still almost the same. The last poll conducted by PCPSR three months ago gave Haniyeh 58% and Abbas 35%.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is carried during a visit to the Ain el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon in September 2020. (credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS)Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is carried during a visit to the Ain el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon in September 2020. (credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS)

The new poll found that jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences for his role in terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada, is the only candidate who could defeat Haniyeh in the presidential elections, receiving 59% to Haniyeh’s 37%.

The poll found that almost three-fourths (73%) of respondents still want Abbas to resign, slightly less than 74% who said so three months ago; 71% in the West Bank and 76% in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

If new parliamentary elections were held today, 36% said that they would vote for Hamas and 42% for Fatah. The last survey gave Hamas slightly more at 38% and Fatah significantly less at 35%.

Explaining the rise in Fatah’s popularity, the center said that the results of the first quarter this year indicate a return to the internal balance of power between Fatah and Hamas, as it was before last May’s 11-day Israel-Hamas war, “Guardian of the Walls.”

“It is noticeable that Fatah’s popularity is rising equally in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” the center pointed out. “The rise might be linked to two things: the success of the so-called confidence-building steps between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and Hamas’s inability to translate the gains it made in the war to positive change on the ground.”

The presidential and parliamentary elections were supposed to take place in May and July 2021, but were called off by Abbas, ostensibly over Israel’s refusal to allow elections in Jerusalem, but likely because he was afraid of losing.

The poll found that 60% of voting Palestinians support suspension of PLO recognition of Israel and 61% support suspension of all agreements with the Jewish state, including security coordination between the PA and the IDF in the West Bank.

However, most Palestinians said they believed that the recent decisions by the PLO to suspend its recognition of Israel and halt security coordination with it would not be implemented.

Some 60% believe that the two-state solution is no longer practical or feasible due to the expansion of Israeli settlements, while 36% believe that the solution does remain practical, the poll showed.

Moreover, 68% believe that the likelihood of a Palestinian state alongside Israel in the next five years is slim to non-existent.

When asked about the most effective means of “ending the Israeli occupation and building an independent state,” the public split into three groups: 44% chose “armed struggle,” 25% negotiations and 24% “popular resistance.”

Additionally, 70% oppose an unconditional resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations while 64% oppose dialogue with the US administration under President Joe Biden.

The poll showed that 84% consider PA institutions to be corrupt, while almost 70% said the same of Hamas-controlled institutions.

The poll indicated that a large majority wants the PA to be neutral in the Russia-Ukraine war, although a majority also blame Moscow for starting the war.