Mahmoud Abbas, the 74-year-old leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement, registered a significant achievement in holding the movement’s Sixth General Conference, which has been wrapping up its business in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank this week.
But veteran Palestinian analysts say Abbas’s biggest internal political challenges still lie ahead. Many of these challenges, they note, stem directly from the compromises he made to be able to convene the conference at all – and to ensure that it presented the trappings of success in the form of a political platform and leadership elections.
One of the biggest compromises was linked to the decision to hold the conference inside the Israeli-occupied West Bank. That meant there were numerous long time Fatah activists from the demographically weighty Palestinian diaspora – and from Gaza – who were barred from attending by Israel. [continued…]
Two years after its takeover of the Gaza strip, Hamas has faced down its greatest challenger: A militant, Al Qaeda-inspired organization that says Hamas is not Islamic enough.
Last Friday, Hamas forces and the Jund Ansar Allah (Soldier of God) movement fought a day-long gun and artillery battle that killed about 30 in the southern Gaza town of Rafah after the group’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Abdel Latif Moussa, declared an Islamic emirate in Gaza and denounced Hamas. Mr. Moussa was killed in the fighting, centered on the mosque where he and his followers had gathered.
It was the first time an Al Qaeda-inspired group had directly challenged Hamas’ rule in the Gaza Strip but it may not be the last. Fueled by the failure of Hamas to address the area’s growing poverty and isolation, and Hamas’ relative recent restraint in its confrontation with Israel, analysts say such organizations are growing in the territory. [continued…]