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Poll: Majority of Palestinian public want Abbas to resign

Sept. 22, 2017 3:14 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 4, 2017 7:07 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip has revealed that an overwhelming majority have lost faith in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with two-thirds of poll participants demanding his resignation.

‘PA has now become a burden on the Palestinian people’

The poll, which was conducted between September 14-16 and published on Tuesday, revealed that a majority of the population in the West Bank and Gaza are worried about the future of civil liberties in the territories, amidst a rise in the arrest of journalists and activists who speak out against Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Abbas’ new Cyber Crimes Law, which has been described by rights groups as “draconian” and “the worst law in the PA’s history.”

According to the center’s findings, “a large majority believes that Palestinians cannot criticize the PA without fear. In fact, half of the public believes that the PA has now become a burden on the Palestinian people,” with the center adding that these fears “might be responsible for the increase in the demand for the resignation of President Abbas.”

Current poll numbers stated that 67 percent of the public want Abbas to resign, while 27 percent want him to remain in office, compared to three months ago, when 62 percent said they wanted Abbas to resign.

The center highlighted that demands for Abbas’ resignation stand at 60 percent in the PA-administered West Bank and at 80 percent in the Hamas controlled the Gaza Strip. Three months ago demand for Abbas resignation stood at 55 percent in the West Bank and 75 percent in the Gaza Strip.

In their findings, the center went on to declare that if presidential elections were to be held today, across the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas movement leader Ismail Haniyeh would win against Abbas, noting, however, that the Fatah movement still remains more popular than the Hamas movement in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, optimism about the success of national reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas stood at 31 percent, while 61 percent of poll takers expressed pessimism towards the prospect. Three months ago optimism stood at 27 percent and pessimism at 64 percent.

‘Lack of trust in diplomacy’ & little hope in the two-state solution

In regards to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, 74 percent of Palestinians believe the US Administration under Donald Trump is “not serious in its efforts” to reach a peace agreement, while 83 percent of the public believe that if negotiations are resumed under US sponsorship, the Trump Administration will be biased in favor of Israel.

Furthermore, 57% of Palestinians according to the poll think that the two-state solution is no longer viable or practical due to Israel’s increased settlement expansion, while a minority 40% think it remains feasible.

Similarly, 70% think the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel in the next five years “are slim to non-existent,” while 28% think the chances are medium or high, with the center noting that these findings may signal a “lack of trust in diplomacy.”

Israeli occupation remains number one problem confronting Palestinians

Despite a fast-growing distrust in diplomacy and fears of growing repressions against free speech from Palestinian leadership, the poll found that the main problems confronting Palestinians today, according to public opinion, are issues surround the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Forty percent of poll participants believed that the “most vital Palestinian goals” should be to end Israeli occupation in Palestinian territory that was occupied in 1967, and to build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Meanwhile, 33 percent stated that the first goal should be to obtain the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their towns and villages inside Israel from which they fled in 1948.

According to the center, the most serious problem confronting Palestinian society today is poverty and unemployment in the eyes of 26 percent of the public; 25 percent believe it is the spread of corruption in public institutions; 23 percent say it is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities; 20 percent say it is the siege of the Gaza Strip and the closure of its crossings.

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