Poll: Most Palestinians believe Israel poisoned Arafat
Published Wednesday 25/12/2013 (updated) 25/12/2013 17:05
Palestinian youth hold portraits of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
during a march in the West Bank town of Hebron on Nov. 11, 2013
to mark the ninth anniversary of Arafat's death (AFP/File Hazem Bader)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- A majority of Palestinians believe Israel poisoned their late leader Yasser Arafat, according to poll published Tuesday, which also highlights a decline in Hamas popularity compared to rival Fatah.
The poll, released by Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, showed 59 percent of respondents believe Israel fatally poisoned Arafat, while 21 percent "believe that a Palestinian party or group or a joint Palestinian-Israeli party or group is responsible."
Recent analyses found high levels of lethal polonium in Arafat's remains and personal effects, with Swiss researchers saying the data lean towards the possibility of poisoning but French scientists ruling that possibility out.
The cause of Arafat's 2004 death in a French military hospital have yet to be finally clarified, with many Palestinians blaming Israel for it, a charge it has consistently denied.
The poll also showed a decline in support of Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip. It attributed this to "the continued political conflict between Egypt and the Hamas government and the continued closure of tunnels and the Rafah crossing."
Were elections held today, Hamas would win 29 percent of the vote, down by two percentage points from a September poll. The Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, which leads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, would gain two percentage points to reach 40 percent support.
The poll was conducted by face-to-face interviews with 1,270 adults between Dec. 19-22 in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with a margin of error estimated at three percentage points.