Fifty years ago, a small group of Palestinian teachers and engineers living in Kuwait founded a secretive movement aimed at liberating those portions of previously British-ruled Palestine that became the State of Israel in 1948.
The group they founded, Fatah, went on to dominate the entire Palestinian political scene. In 1969 it took over the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), which had been founded by the Arab states – as a counter to Fatah – a few years earlier.
In 1993, it was Fatah/PLO head Yasser Arafat who signed the ‘Oslo Accord’ with Israel; and the following year Arafat became president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) established in occupied Ramallah.
But for several years, Fatah has been in crisis, and now that crisis is coming to a sharp head. Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, is planning to convene a meeting of Fatah’s policymaking General Conference Aug. 4. By insisting on holding it in occupied Bethlehem – which will enable Israel’s security forces to completely control who attends and who does not – he has helped split the group’s historic leadership down the middle. [continued…]