As PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party last weekend marked 48 years since the group’s founding – first as a guerrilla organization and later as a Western-backed political movement – Mr. Abbas has reaffirmed his party’s commitment to nonviolent means.
But in the wake of the November conflict between Israel and Hamas, he faces a serious challenge in persuading Palestinians that his model is better than Hamas’s militant approach. While Abbas got a boost from the recent United Nations vote, which recognized Palestine as a non-member state instead of just an observer, he is still seen as fighting an uphill battle.
“There has been a shift from negotiations to struggle against the [Israeli] occupation,” says Hassan Khresheh, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who lives in the West Bank city of Tulkarem. “[Palestinians] believe that negotiating for many years has given them nothing except more settlements and more settlers.”