Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Fatah Mess

I was so hopeful about the chances for progress between Israel and Palestine when Yasir Arafat died. With moderate Mahmoud Abbas in charge, I thought Palestine would be ready to make serious concessions on the road map to peace.

Once again though, there seems to be trouble on the horizon. From the beginning Abbas has refused to use the Palestinian security forces to disarm the militant groups. His own party, Fatah, is divided between the old guard who lived much of their lives in exile, and the younger generation that has lived in Gaza and the West Bank. There are also problems of corruption in his party, which is allowing Hamas to make political gains running on a platform to end corruption.

This latest story spells out much of Fatah’s problems. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant wing of Abbas’ Fatah party, are using violence to try to prevent the upcoming parliamentary elections until a suspected kidnapper is freed from jail. If Palestine is to move forward, they cannot let democratic elections be held hostage by its militant groups. One day soon, the security forces are going to have to take on the terrorist groups. And with Abbas and his Fatah party in such a desperate position, now might be the right time to send a message.