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Poll: Arabs Reject Abbas Despite Olmert's 'Goodwill' Gestures

Olmert's "goodwill" gestures to Abbas have not reached the Arab public. A new poll shows PA Arabs trust Haniyeh of Hamas almost as much as Abbas.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/7/2008, 9:25 PM

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Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's "goodwill" gestures to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas have not trickled down to Abbas's constituents, according to a poll carried out by Arab researchers. It shows PA Arabs trust Gaza's Hamas de facto prime minister Ismail Haniyeh almost as much as they trust Abbas.

Over the past three years, the Olmert administration has granted dozens of "goodwill" measures for Abbas on the theory that propping up his government would keep him popular at the expense of Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

A ministerial committee Sunday approved the latest Olmert goodwill gesture by okaying the release of 230 terrorists. Defense Minister Ehud Barak also ordered the IDF to ease passage from Shechem to the rest of Samaria and to allow free passage of vehicles at two checkpoints into the city without thorough security checks.

However, the poll shows that only 15.9 percent name Abbas as the most trusted personality, followed closely by Haniyeh with 13.8 percent. Abbas's Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who was virtually handpicked by the United States, is considered to be the most trustworthy only by 2.5 percent of the respondents, far behind convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti with a 6.7 percent rating.
                         
The survey of 440 people in the Gaza region and 760 in Judea and Samaria, all of them over the age of 18, was carried out by Arab researchers at the Jerusalem Media & Communications Center.

The PA public remains pessimistic, with 72 percent of the respondents not confident at all or less confident than before regarding the establishment of a new Arab state within Israel's current borders.
 
The election of President-elect Barack Obama also has not made a big impression on Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with 57.5 percent stating his election did not make them more optimistic.

If elections were held today, Abbas would gain only 23.8 per cent of the vote, according to the poll -- only 4.1 percent more than Haniyeh. The gap in favor of Fatah is far greater concerning legislative elections, in which it would beat the rival Hamas by 36.8 percent to 19.5 percent.