Arafat’s popularity falls

Yasser Arafat’s star is growing dim but in the event of an election, he would still win over his main rivals.

A recent opinion poll carried out by the Centre of Investigation and Political Research has shown a dramatic loss of support for Arafat but that he is still by far the most popular Palestinian leader. His popularity has fallen from 46% in June, 2000 to 35% today, against second placed Marwan Barghuthi (Fatah leader on the West Bank, currently under arrest in Israel) with 19% and Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassine (13%).

Palestinian political analyst Khalil Shikaki said that “This situation can be explained in part by the discontent felt by the Palestinians at the way in which the negotiations were held on the ending of the siege of the Church of the Nativity and (Arafat’s) Headquarters in Ramallah.

67% of those taking part in the poll, from a universe of 1,317 people, were not satisfied with the way that 13 Palestinians were exiled to EU countries and six others were placed under arrest and are being held by the British and US authorities in Jericho.


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