Yasser Arafat has been dead for three years, harried to an early death by the Israeli siege of his battered presidential compound in Ramallah. Two camps – his own secular Fatah faction and the Islamist group Hamas – that claim to carry on his struggle for Palestinian rights have effectively been at war for months. In so doing, they have undermined their shared goal of justice for the Palestinian people and trampled a principle of ideological inclusiveness that was perhaps the most important hallmark of Arafat’s leadership. And now they have marred the anniversary of his death with bloodshed.
Leaders of both Fatah and Hamas need very much to take a step back and think about the position of their people – not their respective constituents, but the Palestinian people whom they both purport to represent – and therefore about the consequences of their actions. Their people have been dispossessed for decades, and their Arab allies have never been of much help except (in a limited fashion) when it has suited their own purposes. Their would-be peace partner, the Israeli government, has made clear that it is in no rush to conclude an agreement, and the Jewish state’s cohorts in Washington can be relied upon to support this intransigence as best they can. [complete article]
Hamas says it has rounded up dozens of Fatah activists in Gaza, a day after a huge rally commemorating Yasser Arafat ended in gunfire killing seven people.
Witnesses say security forces opened fire on unarmed crowds after the rally turned into a protest against the Hamas movement’s takeover of Gaza in June.
Hamas says its police came under attack from Fatah gunmen and returned fire. [complete article]
Palestine’s Islamic Resistance Movement — Hamas — won a surprising electoral victory in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections. Almost immediately, Hamas leaders, movement activists, and Islamist academics began to debate the future course of the movement. Under what conditions would Hamas recognize Israel? What was its place as a movement in the Middle East? How should it approach the question of governance of the Palestinian territories? And finally, and most importantly, how would it balance its need to remain an Islamist party while adopting more pragmatic political programs? [complete article]