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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Palestinians still support Arafat

In spite of the growing state of lawlessness in the Palestinian territories and the criticism of senior Palestinian leaders such as Muhammad Dahlan, a new poll reveals that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat continues to enjoy a widespread popularity among his people.

The poll, which was conducted by the Bir-Zeit University among 1,197 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, was held ahead of the municipal elections that are expected to take place in November.

The participants were asked to choose their preferred leader out of a list of 11 names. 46% supported Arafat, while convicted Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti came in a distant second with 12%.

Other senior leaders such as Dahlan, chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and even Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei (Abu Ala) won single digit support. Only half a percent voted for former PM Abu Mazen.

Among the senior leaders from the Islamic movements, Hamas chief Mahmud al-Zahar received the support of 9%, while another senior Hamas leader Isamail Haniya settled for 8%.

12% said they did not support any of the 11 candidates on the list.