Last updated: 19 March, 2012

Palestinians back unity but are split on chances of success

Palestinians overwhelmingly back a unity deal signed by rival factions Hamas and Fatah in Qatar last month, but are divided on the chances of its success, a poll showed on Monday.

The deal calls for Palestinian president and Fatah chief Mahmud Abbas to head a consensus transitional government in the run-up to elections later this year.

The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, showed 84 percent of respondents backed the deal. But only 46 percent expected it to succeed, and 49 percent felt it would likely fail.

The Doha agreement was the latest attempt by the two sides to implement a reconciliation deal signed last year, which was hailed by Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal at the time but has yet to produce results on the ground.

Just 16 percent of Palestinians surveyed said they expected the consensus government it called for to be formed within weeks.

Fourty-six percent believe it will be formed “after a long time,” and 31 percent believe the government will never be formed, the survey said.

The poll also found declining public satisfaction with the governments in place in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas government led by Ismail Haniya saw its approval rating fall to 36 percent from 41 percent three months ago, while the West Bank government led by Salam Fayyad saw its rating drop to 34 percent from 44 percent.

Fayyad, the centre said, appeared to have suffered in part because of an austerity programme he sought to implement in response to a burgeoning financial crisis.

Abbas also saw his popularity decline, with 55 percent of respondents saying they were satisfied with his performance, down from 60 percent three months ago.

But his Fatah party appeared likely to win in any future legislative elections, the survey showed.

It found 71 percent of Palestinians would vote, with 42 percent saying they would back Fatah, over 27 percent who would support Hamas. Ten percent would vote for all the smaller parties combined and 20 percent remained undecided.

The poll found declining fortunes for each party in the territory they control. The percentage of those in Gaza who would vote Hamas dropped from 35 percent to 27 percent in three months, and the number in the West Bank who would vote for Fatah fell from 44 percent to 40 percent.

The poll, carried out between March 15-17, surveyed 1,270 people in the West Bank and Gaza and has a margin of error of three percentage points.