March 26, 2007

The Fall of Fatah

From The Fall of Fatah: Almost 40 years ago, the nationalist group Fatah took over the Palestinian movement, a reign that ended last week when Fatah accepted a junior partnership to Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. Fatah has accepted the partnership with its Islamist rival on terms which reflect much of Fatah's worldview but are very different from the moderate image the group wants to build in the West.

Even though there are Fatah members who prefer a compromise solution, they are in a minority and do not battle for the real acceptance of their views in that group. Fatah has never articulated among its own people - and does not articulate today - an alternative vision of peaceful coexistence.

Fatah's deliberate use of terrorism to mobilize Palestinians emotionally has always been a central strategy, and it has had a corrupting role in both moral and political terms.

Arafat's replacement, Mahmoud Abbas, has some moderate sentiments but is weak, ineffective, and an advocate of most of Fatah's traditional program. The actual head of Fatah is Farouk Kaddoumi, a man who rejected even the peace process of the 1990s. His popularity reflects the basic politics of Fatah.

The mistakes made under the decades-long leadership of Fatah are continuing, and even intensifying, in the new Hamas era. The result is that any possibility of peace is being pushed decades further away.