A lack of confidence in recently renewed peacemaking between Israel and the Palestinians has kept Palestinian support for Hamas stable despite worsening conditions in the Gaza Strip, according to a poll released Monday.
However, the Islamic militant group's popularity lags far behind that of the rival Fatah movement, said the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, an independent polling agency.
Poverty in Gaza has deepened since Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the pro-Fatah security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June. The takeover led Israel to seal its borders with Gaza to all but humanitarian aid.
But the destitution in Gaza, where about 80 percent of the population lives under the poverty line, has not provoked a backlash against Hamas, the survey found.
If new legislative elections were to be held today, Hamas would receive 31percent of the vote, while Fatah would capture 49 percent - unchanged from a September poll.
"The stabilization of Hamas' popularity reflects an almost total lack of confidence in the peace process unleashed by [the] Annapolis meeting," the pollsters said.
Israel and the Palestinians formally relaunched negotiations last month at an international conference in Annapolis, Maryland.
A total of 1,270 adults were interviewed for the poll, which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Despite the disillusionment with the peace process, Abbas' approval rating continues to rise. Satisfaction with his performance rose to 50 percent from 45 percent in September, and 36 percent in June.
But in a faceoff with Hamas' top leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, Abbas' lead narrowed.
If the two were to vie for the presidency today, Abbas would receive 56 percent of the vote to Haniyeh's 37 percent. In September, Abbas received 59 percent to Haniyeh's 36 percent.
About two-thirds of those surveyed said chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the next five years are slim or non-existent, compared with 70 percent who said they felt that way in June.
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