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Hamas Rises, Fatah Sinks (and Palestinians Still Suffer)

As we’ve reported, Hamas is on the move, ditching its beleaguered Shi’a friends (Iran, Syria and Hezbollah) and getting courted by Sunni powers. But if the sun is rising on Hamas, it is setting on Fatah.

Fatah’s struggles stem from decades of failure. It hasn’t built the institutions necessary for Palestinian statehood, hasn’t won concessions from Israel, hasn’t found a way to end its debilitating infighting, and hasn’t proven anywhere near as adroit as Hamas at seeking new sources of funding from Turkey, the Gulf, and newly empowered Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia.

Yet for all of Hamas’s success and Fatah’s failures, neither have had much success in the leadership role. Fatah (at least for now) remains the key to securing Western assistance. Many donor nations will not deal with Hamas, which is still designated a terrorist organization for its refusal to reject armed struggle against Israel. Popular disillusionment with Hamas may also be setting in: A recent poll put its support at 29 percent, down from 44 percent in 2006. Neither Fatah nor Hamas can agree on a timeline for new elections, and they continue to postpone discussion about who should succeed Mahmoud Abbas. To complicate matters, Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Khaled Meshaal, “widely seen as the Islamist movement’s most powerful political figure” and a leading proponent of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, announced his resignation this week.

The fruits of these leadership failures were recently captured in a NYT piece on the Palestinians’ economic and political woes:

The more common view in the West Bank is that with Israel fully controlling about 60 percent of West Bank land as well as the borders, Israel or the donor nations should pay for economic failures, and the Palestinian people should not have to shoulder the cost.

“Once we are independent,” said Mr. [Ahmed] Awaida of the [Palestinian] stock exchange, “we will not need a penny from anyone.”

That attitude, justified or not, will never build a state.

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  • nadine

    “That attitude, justified or not, will never build a state.”

    So what? How many decades must this farce go on before you admit the obvious? Fatah (and Hamas) don’t want a state; they want to destroy a state. If they wanted a state, they would have had one long ago.

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