Israeli gestures boost Fatah's popularity among Palestinians, poll finds

The findings of the poll show that overall support for Fatah has increased and is now higher than that of Hamas.

 President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank August 18, 2020.  (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank August 18, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

The ruling Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has improved its standing among Palestinians, apparently as a result of confidence-building measures by Israel, according to a public opinion poll published on Wednesday.

The poll, conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, attributed the rise in Fatah’s popularity to a series of measures taken by Israel over the past few weeks, including the approval of family reunifications and an increase in the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel.

In a poll published by the center last month, a majority of Palestinians supported the confidence-building measures.

The most recent poll, conducted from October 14-23, surveyed 1,800 Palestinians and has a 3% margin of error.

The findings of the poll show that overall support for Fatah has increased and is now higher than that of Hamas.

Palestinian Hamas militants take part in an anti-Israel rally in Gaza City May 22, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)Palestinian Hamas militants take part in an anti-Israel rally in Gaza City May 22, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

However, the gap between the two parties, five percentage points in favor of Fatah, is smaller than the one that prevailed in March, which stood at 13 percentage points in favor of Fatah.

“The current findings represent a huge improvement for Fatah compared to the findings of June 2021, when the gap between the two stood at 11 percentage points in favor of Hamas,” the center said.

The center noted, however, that Fatah continues to suffer the consequences of developments over the past six months, including the cancellation of the Palestinian general elections, the Israel-Hamas war and the killing of anti-corruption activist Nizar Banat, who was beaten to death by PA security officers in June.

The results of the poll indicated a significant rise in support for the two-state solution compared with previous findings. Support for the concept of the two-state solution was 46%, compared with 36% last month. Support for “armed struggle” against Israel declined from 48% to 44%.

The poll also found that 74% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign. Last month, demand for Abbas’s resignation stood at 78%.

If new presidential elections were to take place today with three candidates competing – Abbas, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti – Barghouti would receive the highest number of votes, the poll found.

If the competition was between Abbas and Haniyeh, the Hamas leader would receive 55% of the votes, compared with 39% for Abbas, according to the poll.