Foreign Policy Blogs

Grand Ol' Fatah

I'd like to express my appreciation to the Foreign Policy Association and Brian O'Neill for giving me the opportunity to take the reigns on the Middle East blog this week.

 This past week the Ramallah-based Mohammed Assadi of Reuters put together a nice piece that captures the frustration of ailing Fatah veterans, who are growing increasingly concerned with the lack of fresh faces (and ideas) within the party.  

Assadi spoke with respected Fatah leader Qaddura Fares, who humorously remarked we don't want members whose pockets are filled with medications, which echoes a common perception on the streets of Ramallah that Fatah's top brass spend more time at the doctor's office than at the negotiations table.

The crisis facing Mahmoud Abbas has been compounded in light of the souring of the most recent efforts of the PA and Israelis to move forward since Annapolis. The inability of Fatah to persuade the Israelis to curb checkpoints, raids, and settlement growth, the recent death of Hamas' Majed Barghouti while in PA custody, and the brutal bombardment of Gaza have left many young Palestinians further disillusioned with their current government and the stalemate it seems to be facing.  The overriding concern, then, is the plausibility of Palestinians seeking alternative representation.

Such a fear became much more real this past week when the findings of a survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research were made public, claiming that if elections were held today Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh would likely be victorious.

The increasing severity of the issue has prompted the aging party to begin asking itself some serious questions and to consider holding the first internal party elections in almost twenty years, which, according to a 2007 Census, is longer than half of the Palestinian population has been alive.