Poll: Abbas, Haniyeh close contenders in elections

A majority of Palestinians favor holding new elections, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would face a tough race against a contender from the rival Hamas group, according to a poll published Sunday. The survey was conducted by the independent Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research among 1,270 Palestinians and had an error margin of 3 percentage points. The questioning was concluded Saturday, the day Abbas announced he was calling early presidential and parliament elections. If Abbas were to run against the most popular Hamas politician, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, he would win 46 percent of the vote, compared to 45 percent for Haniyeh, according to the poll. In a contest for parliament, however, Abbas' Fatah movement widened its lead over Hamas, getting 42 percent of the vote, compared to 36 percent for Hamas. In September, Fatah was only ahead by 3 percentage points.