History & Overview
Fatah is a major Palestinian political party that began in 1965 as the Palestinian National Liberation Movement. Yasser Arafat and friends from Algeria founded the organization, which was originally opposed to the Palestine Liberation Organization that is today one of the largest terror organizations in the world. With Syrian support, Fatah started launching terrorist raids against Israeli targets in January 1965 from Jordan, Lebanon and Egyptian-occupied Gaza. Fatah carried out dozens of raids exclusively against civilian targets in its early years. After taking over the PLO in 1968, its popularity among the Palestinian public decreased significantly. Today, Fatah is the PLO's most prominent faction.
- Basic Facts
- Recent Developments
The word "Fatah" is a reverse acronym of the Arabic Harekat at-Tahrir al-Wataniyyeh al-Falastiniyyeh, meaning "conquest by means of jihad [Islamic holy war]." The Fatah flag features a grenade with crossed rifles superimposed on the map of Israel. This emphasizes the dedication of Fatah, along with the other "liberation" groups, to the "armed struggle" against Israel, which is a euphemism for terrorism against civilians.
Fatah is diametrically opposed to Israel, and its 1989 political program emphasizes the barbarism of colonial Zionism, the success of the (first) intifada, and the centrality of the Palestinian Arab national rights within the Arab-Israeli conflict. In 2009, Fatah adopted a new charter at its general conference in Bethlehem. It mainly concerns organizational structure and political intricacies within the group itself, all the while reaffirming themes of revolution and resistance. A key distinction between the two charters is the inclusion in the first of “the world-wide struggle against Zionism” whereas the 2009 version does not even mention Israel, Zionism or Jews.
1964: First Fatah terrorist attack against Israel
1967: Fatah becomes best-funded Palestinian organization, takes over PLO
1971: Jordan kills Fatah leader
1972: Fatah’s Black September militant group murders 11 Israeli athletes at Munich Olympic Games
1982: Fatah transfers power base from Lebanon to Tunisia after IDF outs it & PLO from non-Syria controlled Lebanon
1983: Struggle between Fatah leaders
1990s: Arafat regains leadership of Fatah
1993: Fatah-led PLO signs Oslo Accords with Israel
1994: Palestinian Authority established to govern autonomous Palestinian regions, Gaza City becomes Fatah Headquarters
2006: Fatah unexpectedly loses Palestinian Legislative Council elections to Hamas
2009: First Fatah congress in two decades convenes in Bethlehem
2011: Hamas and Fatah reconcile in agreement in Egypt-mediated negotiations, sign agreement to form interim joint government
2012: Mahmoud Abbas becomes interim Prime Minister
After Hamas unexpectedly won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and overtook the Gaza Strip, it forced out all remnants of Palestinian President Abbas’s Fatah party. Since then, Fatah has largely been in charge of the West Bank and Hamas of the Gaza Strip. Fatah remains the Palestinian Authority’s largest political and military power, but its ties to terrorist activities cause strains between Israel and the Palestinians. In fact, the issue of uniting Hamas and Fatah has been up for debate – among Palestinians and externally - since 2007. Each side wants to keep their own land and control but acknowledges that political division within the Palestinian infrastructure is probably untenable. The de facto alliance between Israel and the PA aimed to prevent Hamas from overtaking the West Bank has been US-assisted. The US created the Security U.S. Coordinator’s Officethat trains Palestinian security forces and organizes Israel-PA cooperation. Today, despite the peace process in shambles, the PA and thus Fatah is the only prospective partner for a lasting solution to the conflict.
Sources: Federation of American Scientists, Britannica, Washington Institute