The war is taking place between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, from where it was expelled in 2007, but it is causing turmoil in the ranks of Fatah, the historic Palestinian party, more than ever incapable of influencing the course of events.
The party of President Mahmoud Abbas, in power within the Palestinian Authority since its creation in 1994, gives the impression of watching the conflict as a spectator, to the great dismay of the Palestinian population, where its popularity seems to be at its lowest, while that of its rivals Hamas is skyrocketing.
The path of negotiations that the leadership of the party of historic leader Yasser Arafat has advocated since the Oslo Accords of 1993 has still not resulted in the creation of the promised Palestinian state, while Hamas, which made the choice of armed struggle, prides itself on having put the Palestinian cause at the heart of the debates.
The Palestinian Authority is headquartered in Ramallah, in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 and separated from the Gaza Strip by Israeli territory. Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007.
As deadly incursions by the Israeli army increase and colonization continues to gain ground in the West Bank, the younger generation within Fatah no longer has any illusions about the chances of reaching a political settlement with Israel.
Voices are being raised in favor of a return to armed struggle by the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of the movement.
“With Oslo, we took a dose of anesthetic,” said a senior Fatah leader on condition of anonymity, while in the West Bank, more and more Palestinians welcome the armed action of Hamas.
“The leaders who could have influence have too many personal interests linked to the Palestinian Authority, so they cannot take the risk of speaking out against its president,” he assures.
“Unable to react”
On October 17, Palestinian police fired tear gas canisters in the West Bank at demonstrators who shouted “Get out!” » and “The people want the president to fall.” “.
“For the demonstrators, the Authority is increasingly assimilated to Israeli policy, either through its inaction or through security cooperation,” explains researcher Xavier Guignard.
“There are really accusations against Mahmoud Abbas and his inability to be up to the task of reacting to what is happening in Gaza,” he told AFP.
To avoid the risk of alienating the international community on which he counts to help him find a settlement with Israel, Mr. Abbas and the senior leaders of Fatah seem to have their hands tied.
Consequently, says another party executive also speaking on condition of anonymity, “the leadership is careful not to show any sign of support (for Hamas) so as not to appear to condone what it has done. » on October 7.
That day, the Palestinian Islamist movement launched an unprecedented attack which left more than 1,200 dead on Israeli soil, according to the authorities.
Israeli retaliatory bombings in the Gaza Strip have killed more than 16,200 people, according to the Hamas government.
The Barghouthi map
When Mr. Abbas took over as leader of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority following the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004, he orchestrated the end of the armed struggle by the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.
Presented by Israel as the leader of this group, Marwan Barghouthi was arrested by Israel in 2002 and sentenced to life in prison.
A release of Mr. Barghouthi, today the best-known Palestinian prisoner in the world, is often mentioned as part of an exchange between Israel and Hamas, which is still holding in Gaza 138 of the approximately 240 hostages kidnapped during the attack of October 7.
“He is the only one who can bring Fatah together, he is accepted by Hamas and popular,” says a former member of the Fatah security forces who prefers not to give his name.
In diplomatic circles, the man is also seen as the only hope of reconciling the Palestinians and revitalizing the Palestinian Authority.
While the war rages in Gaza, Israel is also increasing military operations in the West Bank, where at least 258 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, according to a report from the Palestinian Authority.
Among them are five Fatah fighters killed on November 18 in Nablus.
They are part of the young people of the movement who have decided to take up arms again. Born during the second Intifada (Palestinian uprising), they no longer believe in diplomacy.