Sunday, August 9, 2009

Good-bye Fatah?

A single question hangs over Fatah's first general conference in 20 years. What is the movement for? There are no easy answers.

By Amira Howeidy
Al-Ahram Weekly

"....Thirty five years and several "peace agreements" later, the PLO's charter has been modified to recognise Israel's right to exist and renounce "terrorism" (aka resistance) when Arafat, in his joint capacity as both Fatah leader and PLO chairman, approved the Oslo Accords, the maze-like framework between Israel and the Palestinians that was supposed to lead to a "peace settlement".

The Palestinian Authority (PA), formed in 1994, also led by Arafat, was born as a result, mandated to represent the PLO in the "peace negotiations" and to "control" -- on behalf of the Israelis -- areas in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and disarm the resistance. As negotiations continued, so too did the building of illegal Israeli settlements in the PA-controlled territories......

Just as questions began to be asked about the post-Oslo relevance of the PLO, so is Fatah's role being questioned today......

The run-up to the sixth congress has resembled nothing more than an extended requiem mass.

Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based pan-Arab Al-Quds Al-Arabi, says the congress marks the final demise of "old Fatah", an organisation that for 40 years "led the Palestinian struggle with honour". He notes, "it is the first time in history that a national liberation movement has met in congress under the guns of the occupiers and with their blessing".

Leading Palestinian analyst Bilal Al-Hassan, in a commentary published on website, writes that while "historic Fatah" maintained its objectives, today's Fatah has "new" and "different targets", one of which is to "end... Palestinian resistance to the occupation".

The post-Arafat Fatah now convening in Bethlehem, he argues, is seeking to create a framework that will convert the movement into a ruling party, concerned with administration and the economy "and not national liberation".

"To protect this new venture" it wants an entirely new security apparatus in place, one void of freedom fighters. "Hence," says Al-Hassan, the "perfect" cooperation between the PA and the US administration, through US Security Coordinator Lieutenant General Keith Dayton......"

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