Fatah loses support among Palestinians

Poll: 39% Palestinians back Abbas's movement; Hamas support rises 3 percent since November.

Abbas 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Despite international political and financial support, the popularity of the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has declined over the past month, partially because of mistrust in the group's leaders, according to a poll published Friday. Fatah still commands a strong lead over Hamas that controls Gaza, with 39 percent of Palestinians trusting it, as opposed to 16 percent backing for Hamas. But in November, 46 percent of those surveyed for a similar poll favored Fatah, and 13 percent backed Hamas. Forty-one percent of those polled said they didn't trust either faction, up from 32 percent in November. The telephone poll, conducted in late December by Near East Consulting, interviewed 959 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points. While most Palestinians trust and approve Fatah's peace moves, they have little trust in Fatah's ability to improve their own living conditions, said Jamil Rabah, director of Near East Consulting. "People don't have a problem with the thinking and ideology of Fatah, but they are not happy with the symbols and leaders of Fatah," Rabah said. "They are getting so much money, but will they bring an end to the (deteriorating) situation?" In December, international donors pledged US$7.4 billion (euro5.1 billion) over the next three years to the Palestinians. The donations followed a US-sponsored conference in Annapolis, Maryland, where Israelis and Palestinians relaunched talks after seven years of violence. Resumption of internal fighting in November and December might explain the growing dissatisfaction, Near East Consulting said. At least 16 people were killed over the two months in Gaza. Rabah said near-daily Israeli military strikes against Hamas terrorists in Gaza during December could have encouraged some of those polled to rally behind Hamas in the latest survey. The shift in numbers "could be both alienation and some kind of bad feeling toward Fatah, as well as sympathy for Hamas," he said.