The future of Fatah is up in the air. Internal divisions and a confused political programme – problems that arguably date back decades – have led this historic Palestinian party to a moment of truth. It is no exaggeration to say that the crisis is of sufficient proportions that Fatah’s continued existence as a political force to be reckoned with is under threat.
This can be best illustrated by a non-event, namely the sixth Fatah general conference, which some 20 years on since the last such meeting, continues to be bereft of a firm date or location. Rumours come and go about when – or even if – the conference will be held; in public, the official line is that the inordinate delay is a result of the necessary preparations. Read more
The events in Gaza this week, which represented the dramatic climax of months of tense bouts of fighting between Hamas and Fatah, were painful to watch. Those who stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, like the thousands who marched in London last weekend, need not be shy about speaking out, despite the pressures of the cynical, smug analysis that laughs at Palestinian ‘self-rule’ and says ‘I told you so’. Responsibility for the current crisis is shared amongst most of the protagonists. Read more
There is no doubt that to witness the Hamas-Fatah confrontations is a discomforting experience for those working for justice for the Palestinians. On the most basic level, it is distressing to see a colonized people expend energies not resisting occupation but in kidnapping and killing each other. There is also the knowledge that all of this plays right into Israeli hands, serving as both a justification for occupation (‘look what happens when we give them territory’), as well as a distraction for a media that does not exactly need an incentive to avoid discussing the conflict’s roots. However, there are other, more profound reasons why Palestinian domestic politics of the last year should produce discomfort, as the PLC elections and subsequent events have thrown into sharper relief some questions that are unpleasant – yet necessary – to face. Read more
Before leaving for Palestine earlier in the summer, a friend of mine gave me a postcard by a Palestinian artist that expressed, he said, the fact that “the situation in the Middle East always seems to get worse, never better”. Sadly, three months in Palestine seemed to confirm this grim reality, as with each passing day, the occupation’s grip becomes tighter and ‘Palestine’ gets smaller. As 2006 begins to draw to a close it is useful to take a step back from the daily horrors in Gaza or the arrest raids in the West Bank, to assess three broad Israeli strategies vis à vis the Palestinians, and how they might be resisted. Read more