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Monday, November 16, 2009     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Report: Abbas hurt by popularity gap between Palestinians at home, abroad

JERUSALEM — Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was likely to lose any election, a report said.   

A report submitted to Israel's parliament asserted that Abbas would probably lose any fair election in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2010. The report by the MACRO Center for Political Economics said Abbas, despite his pronouncements, has little interest in running for another term in office out of concern that he would lose to the opposition Hamas movement.

The Knesset received the report on Nov. 11. MACRO distributes position papers every two weeks to parliamentarians and Cabinet ministers.

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Abbas, the report said, would not implement his pledge to hold elections in January 2010. The report said the PA chairman has threatened to resign as a means to restore his flagging popularity.

MACRO, with funding from Western Europe, said the gap between Abbas's support abroad and that within the Palestinian territories was huge. The report warned that Abbas and the leadership of the ruling Fatah movement were poorly regarded by most Palestinians.

Another obstacle to any PA election was Hamas. The report asserted that Hamas would not allow PA elections to take place in the Gaza Strip, which would force Abbas to cancel election plans.

The report said Abbas's announcement of elections combined with his promise to resign were meant to restore his popularity. In October 2009, Abbas came under unprecedented criticism when he instructed his Palestinian envoy to block action on a United Nations report that accused Israel of war crimes. Abbas was said to have acted under heavy U.S. pressure.

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