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Poll shows Hamas leader would win Palestinian elections

FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2014 file photo, Palestinian top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greets supporters during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Hamas militant group, in the northern Gaza Strip. A public opinion poll shows that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would lose to the leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas if elections were held today. The poll conducted by prominent pollster Khalil Shikaki and released Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018 shows that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win with 49 percent to Abbas' 42 percent. (AP Photo/Adel Hana, File)

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — A public opinion poll shows that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would lose to the leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas if elections were held today.

The poll conducted by prominent pollster Khalil Shikaki and released Tuesday shows that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win with 49 percent to Abbas’ 42 percent.

Shikaki links the results to what’s perceived as a Hamas win in its latest confrontation with Israel and dissatisfaction with Abbas’ government, particularly over a new social security law.

The poll interviewed 1,200 people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and had a 3 percent margin of error.

Abbas’ Fatah faction and Hamas are bitter rivals. Palestinian elections were last held in 2006 and have been repeatedly delayed since.

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