Saturday, July 7, 2007

Fatah on shaky ground in West Bank

Many are looking to the fractured Palestinian party to curb Hamas' reach, but some wonder whether it will be able to hang on to its stronghold

The Los Angeles Times

"RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — Routed in the Gaza Strip, the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is fractured and adrift at a moment when it is viewed by the outside world as the best hope for blunting the militant Hamas movement in the West Bank. Once dominant in Palestinian affairs, the organization long led by the late Yasser Arafat is beset by a weak and aging leadership, internal schisms and a widespread reputation among Palestinians as corrupt, ineffectual and out of touch. Those troubles have some Palestinians wondering whether Fatah is more likely to lose the West Bank than to recapture the Gaza Strip from Hamas.

The crisis facing Fatah has deepened since Hamas crushed its forces in Gaza last month, leaving Fatah's authority limited to the West Bank. The United States, Israel and European allies have promised to bolster Abbas, a relative moderate, and his party as a way to isolate Hamas.....

For their part, Fatah officials have responded to the Gaza loss by blaming one another, with little sign of serious reckoning at top levels over how to revive their beleaguered party. The leaders want early elections, though it is not clear that Fatah would win.

Hani Masri, a political analyst in the West Bank, said the Gaza defeat unmasked deep problems that bode ill for Fatah's lasting prospects in the West Bank, long the party's stronghold. "It shows there is something wrong in leadership, administration, in the movement, in its forces, in its ideologies. And these problems exist in the West Bank," Masri said. "If Fatah does not learn from these mistakes, the West Bank will be similar to Gaza, even if it takes longer."......"

No comments: