August 2007: Palestinians prefer pro-West cabinet to Hamas

August 2007: Palestinians prefer pro-West cabinet to Hamas
Date: 23.08.07
Source: AFP
A Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre poll finds Palestinians prefer the Western-backed government of Salam Fayyad to the dismissed cabinet of Hamas' Ismail Haniya.

Palestinians prefer the Western-backed government of Salam Fayyad to the sacked cabinet of Hamas premier Ismail Haniya, according to a survey published on Thursday.

The poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre, the first it has conducted since Hamas seized power in Gaza in mid-June, also found that respondents blamed Hamas for the deadly internal fighting that preceded the takeover, and support early elections, as called for by president Mahmud Abbas.

The majority of Gazans, however, feel their security has improved since the Hamas rout.

Fighters from the Islamist Hamas overran security forces loyal to Abbas, leader of the secular Fatah party, on June 15. Afterwards, the president fired the Hamas-led unity cabinet and appointed Fayyad, a respected economist, to head a government of independents, a move not recognised by Hamas.

When asked to evaluate the performance of the Fayyad and Haniya cabinets, 46.5 percent said Fayyad's was better, compared with 24.4 percent who said it was worse and 22.8 percent who said they were similar.

When asked who was to blame for the deadly factional clashes in Gaza that preceded the Hamas takeover, 43.5 percent said Hamas, 28.4 percent chose Fatah and 17.5 said both. The breakdown for respondents in the Gaza Strip was little different from the territories as a whole with 40.7 percent, 30.9 percent and 17.7 percent respectively.

When asked to describe the situation in Gaza after the Hamas takeover, 46.7 percent said it was worse, compared with 27.1 percent who said it was better, and 21.1 percent who said it had not changed. In Gaza, the figures were 45.2 percent, 34.1 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Some 57.4 percent of Palestinians support the idea of early polls as favoured by Abbas, compared with 37.6 percent who are opposed. In Gaza, 56.6 percent support early elections and 40.9 percent are opposed.

But 43.6 percent of Gazans said that their feeling about security is better following the Hamas takeover, compared with 31.4 percent who say it has become worse and 25 percent who say it has not changed.

The pollsters questioned 1,199 people between August 16 and 20 in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and gave a three-percent margin of error.