Thursday, March 1, 2007

Special Report: March 2007 - Addendum to the Myth of a “Moderate” Fatah (The Center for Near East Policy Research)

This is an appendix to the original Center for Near Easy Policy Research Report: Inside Fatah - A “Moderate” Entity?

New Developments

The Fatah-Hamas Accord at Mecca

On February 8, 2007, Fatah and Hamas leaders, meeting in Mecca under the sponsorship
of Saudi Arabia, reached agreement on the formation of a PA unity government.
The Accord they produced, roughly based upon the Prisoners Document, was couched in
general terms and did not bridge all gaps in the positions between Fatah and Hamas.
What it did was establish certain broad principles and obligate the two sides to attempt to create a stable regime.

While a unity government has not yet been established as this is written – and continuing Fatah-Hamas friction casts some doubt on the likelihood that it will be – the Accord must be examined for what it reveals about the intentions and commitments of Fatah and PA president Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas has stated that the agreement was concerned only with an internal Palestinian
matter – prevention of a Palestinian civil war – and was not intended to address relations with Israel. In the words of Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi,1 the Accord is a “tactical political measure calculated to create a false impression regarding Hamas' political flexibility in order to whitewash the organization into being accepted as a legitimate player in the international arena...”

Since his return from Mecca, Abbas has been promoting the position that he can negotiate with Israel as the head of the PLO, rather than as president of the PA.3 The implication, on first blush, appears to be one of trying to achieve negotiations by circumventing the unity government, which will not have recognized Israel nor agreed to abide by previous agreements.

View the Full Report: March 2007 Addendum to Myth of a “Moderate” Fatah

Monday, January 1, 2007

Special Report: Inside Fatah - A “Moderate” Entity? (The Center for Near East Policy Research)

Can “strengthening” Mahmoud Abbas and his party improve the situation in the Middle East?

by Arlene Kushner

There is a prevailing notion in Western diplomatic circles today that Hamas – and
only Hamas – is the stumbling block to a successful negotiation of peace between
Israel and the Palestinian Authority. According to this thinking, Fatah – and
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in particular – are essentially
“moderate” in outlook and should be strengthened in the interests of achieving that

The question remains: Can this approach be substantiated? Is the Fatah indeed
“moderate”? Would it sustain a genuine peace with Israel?

Statements offered to a Western world eager to embrace peace are easy to proclaim.
These statements represent a major difference in policy between Fatah and Hamas:

While Hamas is boldly belligerent and declares its intentions outright, Fatah appears
to play the game. But this difference is one of style and not of ultimate intentions.
A review of salient facts dispels the notion that Fatah is “moderate.”
The argument has been made that it was the influence of Arafat that caused Fatah to
lack moderation, and that we are seeing a “new” Fatah since Arafat’s death. There is
scant evidence to support this.

In the battle currently ensuing between Fatah and Hamas, is it reasonable – on the
face of the evidence – to support and bolster Fatah with the expectation that it would genuinely pursue peace? The inescapable conclusion is that this is not a reasonable expectation.

We begin by looking at the Fatah of today, for this is of immediate concern.
We then turn to a broader look at Fatah, and a consideration of the years leading up to the present. No accurate understanding of Fatah would be possible without this
perspective. What we find is that, while style may have changed, the essence of Fatah
goals and policies have not.

See the Full Report: Inside Fatah - A “Moderate” Entity?