Is Fatah the 'Address' in the West Bank?

Abu-Mazen's political weaknesses coupled with the obstacles facing the transformation of Fatah into an effective 'address' in the West Bank and a partner for the political process - are manifold.

In light of the new reality in the Palestinian arena, Israel and the US are interested in strengthening Abu-Mazen's status in the West Bank, and state publicly that they see Abu-Mazen as a Partner for conversations on the establishment of a Palestinian state. Notwithstanding this, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert qualified and cast doubt on Abu-Mazen's abilities to 'deliver the goods' in light of prior attempts.

Abu-Mazen's political weaknesses coupled with the obstacles facing the transformation of Fatah into an effective 'address' in the West Bank and a partner for the political process are manifold (for more on this topic, see Robert Malley and Aharon David Miller, Washington Post, 6/19/07).

  • Fatah is divided - Fatah is currently composed of a series of different groups who do not necessarily view themselves as affiliated with Fatah's central leadership;

  • Fatah also possesses terrorist groups - In the last year, it was the 'Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades' of Fatah that committed most of the terror operations against Israel in the West Bank. It is possible that precisely because of the fear against continuation of terror acts by Fatah elements, Israel will not be able to completely withdraw from the centers of the cities as Abu-Mazen demands;

  • Fatah has no apparent and unifying 'agenda' ­­­­- Fatah today is not a movement with a clear social, economic and perhaps even political agenda, that is capable of unifying its ranks around a common agenda;

  • Hamas is also popular in the West Bank - Hamas enjoys sizeable influence and popularity in the West Bank. In the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hamas won a landslide victory over Fatah in the West Bank as well;

  • Hamas' military strength in the West Bank should not be underestimated - At this stage, Hamas has so far not decided to retaliate to Fatah's actions against its members in the West Bank. Although Hamas' stronghold is based in Gaza, there are many Hamas militants in the West Bank and it is doubtful whether Fatah can clearly rule over the West Bank;

  • A multitude of security forces - One of the central problems plaguing the PA since its establishment has been the multitude of security forces that complicated the PA's ability to uphold public order and govern effectively.

Sources

Aluf Benn, Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 6/20/07, full Article (in Hebrew).

Robert Malley and Aharon David Miller, Washington Post, 6/19/07, full article.