Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Special Report: January 2008 - Fatah as “Moderate” A Hard Look Post-Annapolis (The Center for Near East Policy Research)

Fatah as “Moderate” A Hard Look Post-Annapolis
Can Mahmoud Abbas and his party serve as legitimate peace negotiation partners?

by Arlene Kushner

Executive Summary

The documented report following explores the question of whether Fatah, headed by
Mahmoud Abbas, is moderate and a viable peace partner for Israel.

1) Are they able to do it?

The over-riding assessment of Israeli intelligence over the past four months is that
from a security perspective Fatah is exceedingly weak within Judea and Samaria.

· Hamas is as strong as Fatah in Judea and Samaria, and represents a real threat.
· The 19 UNRWA refugee camps in Judea and Samaria, which are hotbeds of terrorist activity, are controlled exclusively by armed militias and security forces are not permitted entry.
· A PA Security Services officer admits: “We still have many officers who are involved in various crimes and corruption. We are still far from talking about real reforms in the security establishment.”

The consensus is that Fatah is a party of corruption.

· This state of affairs reduces both popular support for Fatah and its ability to
manage affairs of government.
· Hamas captured evidence of Fatah corruption when it seized Gaza, further
compromising Fatah.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has a reputation within his
party and on the Palestinian street as a weak and ineffectual leader, unable to

· He himself is seen as among the most corrupt of party members.
· He is so weak that he is afraid to leave Ramallah: he hasn’t been to Jenin or
Nablus since 2005. “In private conversations, [Abbas’s] associates…call him 'a pensioner still going to the office.’ ”
· Inside his party, he faces opposition from the young turks because he hasn’t reformed the party, and from the old guard (notably Farouk Kaddoumi, who heads the Central Committee) that is opposed to conciliation with Israel. The question must be asked: Whom does Abbas speak for?
· Outside his party, he faces the pressure of Hamas, which makes Palestinian discourse more radical: Hamas represents moderation as “weakness” and accuses Abbas of “selling out to the enemy.” Fatah isn’t a moderate foil against Hamas – its ability to moderate is weakened by Hamas.

See the Full Report: Fatah as “Moderate” A Hard Look Post-Annapolis

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