The popularity of the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, and its arch-rival Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has dropped significantly in recent months, according to a new public opinion poll published in Ramallah Monday.

The poll, by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) and conduced in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between March 15 and 17, said that "the first quarter of 2012 brings bad news to the governments of (Palestinian Prime Minister Salam) Fayyad and (Hamas leader Ismail) Haniyeh, to Fatah and Hamas, and to (President (Mahmoud Abbas."

Only 36 per cent of respondents gave the Haniyeh government a positive evaluation, compared to 41 per cent three months ago. The popularity of the Fayyad government showed an even sharper decline in the same period, down to 34 per cent at present, from 44 percent earlier.

A majority of respondents said they were satisfied with the performance of President Mahmoud Abbas, but these numbers were also in decline. Some 55 per cent said they were satisfied, while 43 per cent said they were dissatisfied.
Three months ago these figures stood at 60 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.

The poll noted that the significant drop in the positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government, particularly in the West Bank, was likely due to anticipated fallout from an ongoing PA financial crisis.

The lowered popularity of Hamas and its government in the Gaza Strip, the poll concluded, was "probably due to Hamas' behavior, standing on the sideline during Gaza's rocket war with Israel, and due to the prevailing pessimism about the chances for reconciliation" (between Fatah and Hamas, which have been at political loggerheads since June 2007.) The poll had a plus or minus 3-per-cent margin of error.