Fatah in freefall as Hamas and Israel wage war

Friday, Dec 08, 2023

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Fatah, the largest Palestinian party, has seen its popularity plunge during the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, from where the Islamists violently ousted rivals Fatah in 2007.

Fatah´s chosen path of negotiations has not brought about the Palestinian state promised by the Oslo Accords of 1993, and Hamas -- after choosing violence instead -- has seen its popularity soar.

Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas has led the Palestinian Authority -- which has partial administrative control in the Israeli-occupied West Bank -- since its creation in 1994. But the PA is now weakened like never before, and Palestinian political divisions run deeper than ever since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7.

On that day, Hamas fighters swarmed across the border from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel and killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to the Israeli authorities. They also seized about 240 hostages and took them back into Gaza.

In retaliation, seeking to destroy Hamas, Israel bombarded Gaza and launched a ground invasion in a campaign that the Hamas-run health ministry in the territory says has killed more than 16,200 people, again mostly civilians.

The old guard in the West Bank where Fatah holds sway wants calm to prevail so talks can take place -- and so they do not jeopardise the positions and advantages they enjoy under the PA.