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By Mohammed Assadi
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Anger among Palestinians over President Mahmoud Abbas's original position on a Gaza war report critical of Israel has cost him public support in a rivalry with Hamas, a poll showed on Sunday.
The survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre (JMCC) indicated Abbas would receive 16.8 percent of the vote, with Hamas Islamist leader Ismail Haniyeh running neck-and-neck with 16 percent, if a presidential election was held now.
In terms of overall popularity in the occupied West Bank and in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Abbas's rating dropped to 12.1 percent from 17.8 percent in the previous JMCC poll in June. Haniyeh's approval rating held steady at 14.2 percent.
Abbas, whose Fatah party lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in fighting in 2007, has said his administration erred in approving a U.N. decision in Geneva two weeks ago to delay action on the report on the December-January Gaza war.
He was widely believed to have bowed to U.S. pressure over the matter, taking a stance that surprised and angered many Palestinians and, according to the JMCC, led to his popularity decline in the new poll.
Abbas reversed course last week.
In a special session proposed by the Palestinians, the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday endorsed the report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes but was more critical of Israeli actions.
The council passed a resolution that singled out Israel for censure without referring to any wrongdoing by Hamas.
Abbas has said he would proceed with plans to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in January unless Hamas agreed to a deal proposed by Egypt to delay the ballot until June.
Egypt has been trying to mediate a reconciliation pact between Fatah, which has accepted the unity proposal, and Hamas, which is still weighing the plan.
The JMCC said it interviewed 1,200 people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between October 7 and 11, a few days after the Palestinian Authority agreed to defer the U.N. report. It said the poll had a margin of error of three percent.
(Editing by Richard Williams)