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Fatah-Hamas political disputes lead to unprecedented frustration and mistrust

31 16 26

The antipathy between the two main rival Palestinian political factions – Fatah and Hamas – has reached an unprecedented level in recent weeks. Ordinary Palestinians hoped that 2019 would be a better year and see an end to the ongoing 12-year rift between the two parties. Yet their wishes were not granted.

The state of limbo between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the Fatah-ruled West Bank, led by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, has entered a new phase that could lead to a final separation.

The latest media war and practices on the ground suggest that the already-large gap is getting wider. The tension was sparked in late December, when Abbas approved a decision by the constitutional court to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) – the PA’s parliament, controlled by his rival Hamas. The move, according to him, was necessary in order to prepare for holding new parliamentary elections in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) within six months.

The “legitimacy war” escalated, with Hamas ignoring the move and holding a regular session at the PLC headquarters in Gaza. Hamas described Abbas’s step as “an attempt to delegitimise the majority [Hamas], ending political pluralism, and destroying legitimate state institutions”. The term of Abbas – who is now 83 years old – was meant to expire in 2009, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections, while the PLC has been largely disabled since the 2006 elections.

In the first week of 2019, an attack was carried out on the headquarters of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) by a group of men. The head of the PBC and a number of Fatah officials accused Hamas of being behind the attack, which caused widespread destruction to various equipment. Days later, investigations by Hamas’ intelligence services revealed that the attackers were former PA employees whose salaries had been suspended, suggesting that they had sided with Mohammad Dahlan, Abbas’s bitter........

© Middle East Monitor