Fatah lost control of Gaza to the rival Hamas movement after violent clashes in June [AP]

The Fatah movement has been at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle for an independent state, but has also faced accusations of corruption and cronyism.

 

Now it is facing one of its biggest challenges yet after having lost control over the Gaza Strip to its main rival, Hamas.

 

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin looks at Fatah's battle to regain the support of the Palestinian people.

 

The Fatah movement of Yasser Arafat, the late president, led the Palestinians in their struggle for freedom for decades. Years later, the movement lead the Palestinians to peace talks with Israel.

 

Almost two years after the death of Arafat, and after nearly forty years in power, Fatah is believed losing ground.

 

The movement experienced its first defeat when it lost parliamentary elections to Hamas in early 2006. Then in June this year, Hamas took control of Gaza after violent street confrontations with security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and Fatah leader.

 

"This gave us an opportunity to view ourselves realistically. A weak party with ailing leaders, no vision or means of communication with the grass roots – a movement that has aged and is outdated," Qadoura Faris, a Fatah leader, told Al Jazeera.

 

Corruption and failure

There is little disagreement among Fatah leaders about why they lost the election. A combination of corruption, internal struggles and the failure to deliver any political results from peace talks with Israel proved detrimental to the movement.

 

"We are Fatah, we are the godfathers
of this revolution... It's not easy for us to overcome what happened"

General Jibril
al-Rjoub, 
former presidential security adviser
The fact remains though that members are in shock over their party's demise.

 

"We are Fatah, we are the godfathers of this revolution. We are the mother of this project. It's not easy for us to overcome what happened," General Jibril al-Rjoub, a former presidential security adviser, said.

 

Over the last ten years, Fatah members and their supporters formed the core structure of the Palestinian Authority.

 

"The problem that Fatah suffers from is that it itself is built on a system of patronage meaning donating money and jobs in the bureaucracy. This has been one cohesive element within Fatah-patronage. That is why it is important for Fatah to be in power," George Giacaman, a political analyst at Birzeit University in Ramallah, said.

 

The threat to Fatah, however, is not only from Hamas, the US and the West are attempting to groom a new leadership for the Palestinian people, following Fatah's failure in Gaza.

 

New cabinet

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, appointed, under pressure, a new cabinet, led by Salam Fayyad, a former world bank executive.

 

Fayyad is not a member of Fatah and neither were any of his cabinet members. This was a concern among the Fatah ranks.

 

"Fatah has come to realise that there is an attempt to introduce technocrats as an alternative to them rather than an exception," Nabil Amer, an adviser to Abbas, said.

 

But Amer, who is a Fatah revolutionary council member, is sceptical and says that this approach will not work.

 

Meanwhile, al-Rjoub's priority is reform and he has no doubt that Fatah will prevail.


"Fatah is a secular pragmatic nationalistic movement and is the only, the only way to survive and lead the Palestinian people to their ends," he said.

 

Fatah officials aknowledge that the shortest way to regain the support of the people is to conclude their peace talks with Israel with a political settlement that will convince the Palestinian public and that rightfully translates their vision.

Source: Al Jazeera