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Polls show Abbas easily winning re-election

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would easily win re-election in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, according to two polls.

The polls, by The Israel Project and the Palestinian Center for Survey and Policy Research, showed dramatic gains for Abbas and the Palestinian Authority in recent months.

The Israel Project poll, conducted by Stanley Greenberg, a pollster usually identified with the U.S. Democratic Party, showed Abbas defeating Ismail Haniyeh, who leads the Hamas government in Gaza, by at least 10 points in both areas.

In the Palestinian Center survey, Abbas earned 52.4 percent of the vote to Haniyeh’s 38.3 percent. Abbas in a May poll by the center had only a 5 percent advantage.

The Palestinian Center credited the Abbas surge to increased safety for Palestinians in the West Bank — the result of a reconstituted police force trained by a U.S.-led multinational team and a Fatah Congress that committed itself over the summer to resisting Israel’s occupation and bringing new blood into the leadership.

The polls also showed support for the notion of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state once a Palestinian state is in place. According to the Palestinian Center poll, support was even at 49 percent apiece for and against. The Israel Project found 69 percent in favor and 29 percent against in the West Bank, and 56 percent opposed to 33 percent in favor in Gaza.

The results are significant because the terms for Abbas and the Palestinian legislature expire in January. Also, a meaningful display of support strengthens Abbas’ hand in negotiations with Israel because it counters perceptions peddled by the Netanyahu government that his leadership has been ineffective.

The Palestinian Center poll, conducted in mid-August and published Sept. 3, surveyed 1,270 adults in person and has a margin of error of 3 percent. The Israel Project poll has yet to be released; the data was reported Sept. 4 in The New York Times after Greenberg independently shared the data with the newspaper.

Israel Project founder Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi confirmed the data but said her staff was "still working on a press release," so the full poll would not yet be released.

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