Why Palestinians are divided

A Palestinian boy walks past a mural of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on a section of Israel’s separation barrier at Oalandia checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah on July 6, 2012. (credit: Mahfouz Abu Turk / APA Images)
To say the current Palestinian political crisis is simply a Hamas-Fatah split is to ignore a history of division that cannot be solely blamed on Palestinians.

By Ramzy Baroud | Mondoweiss | Sept 29, 2021

Even Palestinian division has rarely been a Palestinian decision, although the Palestinian leadership deserves much blame for failing to develop a pluralistic political system that is not dependent in its survival on a single group or individual.

The political division in Palestinian society is deep-rooted, and must not be conveniently reduced to the Hamas-Fatah split, or disagreements around elections—and the lack thereof—and the Oslo Accords. The divisions are linked to events that preceded all of this and are tied to the issue of who is the representative of the Palestinian people. Today’s disunity is the outcome of one political party’s decades-long sortie becoming dominant.

This dates back to Palestinian politics prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948 on the ruins of historic Palestine, when various Palestinian clans fought for control over the entire Palestinian body politic. Disagreements led to conflict, often violent, though, at times, it also resulted in relative harmony, for example, the establishment of the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) in 1936.

These early years of discord duplicated themselves in later phases of the Palestinian struggle. Soon after Egyptian leader Jamal Abdel Nasser relinquished his influential role over the Palestine Liberation Organization following the humiliating Arab defeat in 1967, the relatively new Fatah Movement, established by Yasser Arafat and others in 1959, took over. Since then Fatah has mostly controlled the PLO, which was declared in Rabat, in 1974, to be the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

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