The 21st Century Phenomenon


When Hamas took over Gaza Strip, on 06/14/2007, on paper the number of armed Fatah loyalists was much higher than the 10,000 Hamas operational force. The Fatah loyalists were also better equipped and trained then the Hamas. The failure of Fatah was a failure of leadership (see – Two Palestines).

All Hamas leaders grew in the Palestinian territories, conducted a modest way of life without any barriers and without extravagant luxury. The Hamas is running for many years, in all the Palestinian territories, a large scale welfare system and the only one, funded by Muslim organizations. The Fatah leadership, on the other hand, was about 20 years older, almost all of them grew up outside the Palestinian territories without roots in the local society. They were, many years ago, terrorists/freedom fighters but accustomed themselves over the past 30 years to the luxury of the Western World on the expense of the PLO and Yasser Arafat.They lived in exclusive neighborhoods, surrounded with bodyguards, moving from place to place with well protected convoys with extravagant luxury. The take over of Gaza was basically a social revolution of the younger “inside” leadership of the Palestinians against the older corrupted “outside” leadership of Fatah (see – HAMAS-Fatah ).

In the Palestinian West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas remained in power, he even radicalized the social conflict. He surrounded himself almost solely, with the old “outside” Fatah veterans. His inner cycle made fortune by monopolizing the Palestinian economy and channeling the huge foreign aid through their monopolized companies and businesses. The local-rooted younger leadership, who grew in the daily struggle with Israel, remains, by large, out of the political power sharing and out of the wealth. No wonder that despite some resentment to the Hamas in the Palestinian West Bank, the Fatah is unpopular and its legitimacy in the Palestinian society is poor. President Mahmoud Abbas, whose legal term as president expired in 01/2009, is making his best to avoid any elections fearing the outcome (see – THE COLLABORATOR).

In an attempt to boost his legitimacy the Fatah Convention, which did not convey for over 20 years, is scheduled to take place in Bethlehem, on 08/04/2009. It could be an opportunity for the old Fatah leadership and Mahmoud Abbas to push forward a new young leadership who grew up in the territories, with deep roots in the Palestinian society and understands well what can be or can not be achieved from the Israelis, and to mark them as the future Palestinian leadership.

Instead Mahmoud Abbas deepened the gape between the current Fatah leadership and the society by putting pressure on Israelis, Egyptians an Americans to allow the return of the Fatah senior Muhammad Ghneim (also known as Abu Maher Ghneim), 71. According to sources in Mahmoud Abbas’s chamber, he intends to proclaim Muhammad Ghneim, just two years younger then Abbas himself, as his successor.

Muhammad Ghneim (pic) was not allowed back to the Palestinian Authority because he presented blunt opposition to the peace process with Israel and to any recognition of Israel. He represents four negative directions in the Palestinian leadership: the coming convention will not be about a new pragmatic leadership for the Palestinian in the West Bank but about tightening the grip of the Fatah “outside” leadership on the Palestinian society; the young frustrated Palestinian leadership from the “inside” is pushed away even further from power; the legitimacy of the Fatah as the true representative of the Palestinian people is about to be severely undermined and the prospect of fruitful negotiation with Israel will diminish.

Instead of moving forward the next Fatah convention is about to be a step backward. 


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