What You Need To Know About Playing Fatah

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--Keep in mind that Fatah is the political wing of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which was the premier military champion of Palestinian rights for almost 30 years, until the signing of the Oslo Accords. Fatah brokered a peace deal with Israel, Fatah created the Palestinian Authority, and Fatah’s Yasser Arafat was the living symbol of the Palestinian struggle. From your perspective, this makes your organization the undisputed master of Palestinian politics, whatever the latest election might say.

--Under Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah has attempted to chart a course towards moderation in international eyes, to secure a better negotiating position for the Palestinians and also earn more money for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority. Hamas jeopardizes this situation—regardless of whether or not Hamas was elected, Fatah will not feel compelled to follow the dictates of Hamas if this government challenges Fatah’s long term peace strategy.

--Hamas won the 2006 parliamentary elections because Fatah was alleged to be corrupt: the fact is, Fatah is very corrupt, and as a result has lost much legitimacy on the Palestinian street, especially among the most desperately poor, who coincidentally are the very same individuals that brought Hamas to power. You must try and rehabilitate Fatah’s image as a capable governing body if you ever want to return to true power.

--Despite its attempts to appear as a reasonable and moderate organization, Fatah has spawned a number of breakaway militant organizations, most notably the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, who have killed Israelis in Fatah’s name. This presents a challenge to Fatah from both sides. On the one hand, if Fatah acknowledges this violence, it will lose its reputation with western donors as a moderate organization. On the other hand, if it does not represent itself as taking a hard line on the Israelis, the organization will appear weak to the very voters that recently brought Hamas to power. It is your responsibility to strike a balance between diplomacy and resistance—too much of either one will be the death of your organization.

--Fatah has one powerful trump card Hamas lacks: international recognition. Even if many Arabs respect Hamas, for a number of reasons it is simply easier for Fatah to engage diplomatically with the world, even more so in the west. Even if Hamas can control Gaza, it is still dependent on Abbas’ faction to bring in outside funding. If necessary, this is a card that be pulled on Hamas, though it will not help to heal the gulf currently separating these two factions.

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