In a poll conducted by Birzeit University shows that the majority of the Palestinians prefer to have the Palestinian Law Maker Marwan Barghouthi to be president after Arafat.

The poll, carried out by the Development Studies institute at the university during September 9 – 11, one week after the voter registration process for the local and general elections started, included 1204 Palestinians in seventy- five different locations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Bargouthi came in second as a presidential candidate among 11 others, including, Ismael Abu Hanieh, Islamic Jihad leader and Mahmoud Al-Zahar Hamas leader. In addition, both the former and the current prime ministers, Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmad Qurei were on the list as well and the former minister of Interior Mohammad Dahlan.

46% of the sample preferred Arafat, while 12% preferred Bargouthi, 9% for Zahar, 1.6% for Hanieh, and 0.5% for Abbas.

Bargouthi came first, with 51% in a scenario that does not include Arafat but includes Hanieh who had 28% and the Mustafa Bargouthi, a prominent Palestinian leader and Politician who had 11%.

The poll showed that the support for Arafat in the West Bank is higher that from the Gaza Strip, unlike the leaders of the Islamic movements and Dahlan, where Bargouthi’s support is equal in both Palestinian areas.

Marwan Al-Bargouthi was arrested in April 2002 during a wide scale Israeli military operation in the West Bank. In July, an Israel court sentenced Bargouthi to 5 life terms imprisonment.