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By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.

The Fatah movement is facing an inescapable historic challenge; i.e., if it wants to remain consistent with its history and sacrifices.

The Fatah movement has left its mark on modern Palestinian history when it re-launched the Palestinian armed struggle in 1965, took control of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), since 1968, to “revolutionize” it, led the Palestinian struggle for many years, and had tens of thousands of its members killed, wounded and imprisoned… It’s time for this movement to be consistent with its resistance history and in harmony with the Palestinian popular will; after its leadership has went too far in monopolizing the official institutions, proceeding with the peace process, nurturing a functional administrative structure that serves the occupation in the West Bank (WB), blocking the reform of the Palestinian political house and blocking the aspirations of the Palestinian people. It has disrupted and thwarted the elections, and caused an unprecedented state of popular discontent, the people are totally frustrated at the possibility of conducting any reform process under its supervision.

This moment is of historical significance. It is a milestone witnessing widespread public anger towards the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah leadership, as a result of their past miserable performance, on the one hand, and on the other hand, there is wide Palestinian popular support, at home and abroad, for the resistance and its program, after the “the Sword of Jerusalem” battle and its defense of al-Aqsa mosque and the holy sites. Actually, Hamas and the resistance forces have taken the lead in the Palestinian scene, expressing the people’s hopes and aspirations. During the past weeks, the Palestinian people, the Arab and Muslim peoples have reminisced the ambience and mood of the Battle of Karameh in March 1968, and how there was popular consensus on resistance.

Ahmad al-Shuqairi had the courage and moral and ethical responsibility to hand over the PLO leadership to an interim leadership at the end of 1967. The historic leader of the Palestinian people, Haj Amin al-Husaini congratulated Fatah on taking the lead, while recommending that the resistance approach should continue and not to concede any part of Palestine. Similarly, it’s time for the Fatah leadership to grant the Palestinian people their free will and support the change and smooth modernization of the Palestinian political system.

We are at a turning point, where an ancient Palestinian faction should not put itself against the overwhelming popular majority. To be consistent with its identity, history and sacrifices, this faction, first and foremost, must be in harmony with the will of its people, not against it.

There is no room for Fatah and its leadership anymore to use its pioneering militant history, to justify policies, paths and behaviors rejected by the public. For consistency with the struggle history requires more struggle and sacrifices, rather than concessions, suppression or marginalization of the reform and change forces. It requires the activation of institutions and legal processes, rather than strengthening hegemony/domination and tutelage. If Fatah has its history and struggle, the other factions like: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine… have their own history and struggle. In short, there is no room anymore to hide behind history to justify the mistakes and disasters of the present.

At this defining moment, the Fatah leadership has a historical responsibility towards the Arab regimes, which has normalized their ties with Israel, and towards the international community seeking to rehabilitate the PA and its leadership, after the “Sword of Jerusalem” battle. It has the responsibility of standing against the attempts to marginalize the will of the Palestinian people, waste the resistance gains, resurrect the futile peace process, offer crutches to the functional authority in order to continue serving the occupation and providing cover for the Israelis to further Judaize the land and the people.

Fatah should beware not to use those crutches or to have “feet of mud and feet of dough” to continue enjoying the “legitimacy” of external recognition and ensure its survival… For it will remain an artificial legitimacy that the Palestinian people reject… It would be unfortunate if a militant revolutionary movement like Fatah, before having liberation… and before having a state, eventually turns itself into a distorted model of corrupt, tyrannical Arab regimes. Therefore, when the people take the initiative, history will not have mercy on Fatah.

At this historical moment, Fatah leadership has no right to re-market the spoiled Oslo merchandise, or impose on the resistance forces what Israel, the US and normalizing Arab regimes have failed in. The insistence of Fatah leadership on what it calls a national unity (in the PA and PLO) that abides by the requirements of the peace process, the international Quartet and “international legitimacy,” makes it look like a tool used by these forces to subdue the Palestinian people and resistance forces.

At this historical moment, the Fatah leadership must be more in line with its organizational and popular base. This base has been paying hefty prices during the confrontations against the Israeli occupation. The Palestinian people are being killed, wounded and imprisoned certainly not for the sake of security coordination, or for a functional authoritarian entity, or for a settlement process that has been proven unsuccessful… This base, which is witnessing turmoil and wide movements, deserves to have a response from its leadership, who must continue the resistance legacy and follow the steps of its symbols like Yasir ‘Arafat, Khalil al-Wazir, ‘Abdul Fattah Hammud, Kamal ‘Adwan and other prominent leaders. Consequently, this leadership must be more in line with the resistance and the defense of Jerusalem, and with an independent Palestinian decision-making process, away from the domination of Israel and its international sponsors.

Perhaps the first and urgent test of credibility for the Fatah leadership is to prove its seriousness in resuming the path of reform and putting the Palestinian political house in order, on genuine, fair and effective bases. This can be done by changing the leadership of this process and having an agreed-upon interim Palestinian one of a representative nature. This new leadership would manage this file until its completion. The Palestinian situation does not tolerate the luxury of rivalries, escaping from responsibilities and entitlements, or wasting time. However, if the Fatah leadership insists on pursuing monopoly and domination, it must bear the historical responsibility for disaster and devastation resulting from disrupting and foiling a fundamental basis in the liberation project; i.e., establishing an effective institutional structure capable of leading the people in their liberation project.

Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 3/6/2021

The opinions expressed in all the publications and studies are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of al-Zaytouna Centre.

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