Palestinian Affairs

Poll: Palestinians prefer jailed terrorist to current Palestinian leaders

A strong plurality of Palestinians would select as president Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah-linked terrorist currently serving five life sentences for coordinating attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, over current Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas or Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh in presidential elections:

These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 28-30 March 2013. The period before the poll witnessed the formation of a new Israeli government and a visit by the US president to Israel and Palestine… If presidential elections were between three: Mahmud Abbas, Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, Barghouti would receive the largest percentage (38%) followed by Haniyeh (31%), and Abbas (26%). The rate of participation in this case would reach 73%. In our previous poll last September, Barghouti received 29%, Haniyeh 39%, and Abbas 27%.

Broad majorities of respondents considered Abbas’s Fatah faction and Haniyeh’s Hamas faction corrupt, while less than half thought that press freedoms exist in the Fatah-controlled West Bank:

Perception of corruption in PA institutions in the West Bank stands at 78% in this poll compared to 74% three months ago. Perception of corruption in the public institutions of Hamas’ Gaza government stands at 64% compared to 53% three months ago.
21% say there is, and 44% say there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank. By contrast, 16% say there is, and 35% say there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip.

The PA in general and Abbas in particular have recently come under sustained criticism for laws and tactics that circumvent the rule of law and threaten civil liberties in the West Bank. A West Bank court recently upheld a prison sentence for a journalist convicted of “defaming Abbas,” the PA arresting a journalist for having ties to Al Jazeera, and the Palestinian Ministry of Information imposing new registration restrictions on journalists working in their areas.

Abbas himself is currently serving in the ninth year of his four-year presidential term.

[Photo: Justincgeo / Flickr]