The Palestinian Fatah party is holding its first conference in 20 years. Some of the reports from the conference strike me as funny (but then, I laughed my way through the Sopranos). For example, Jonathan Tobin notes that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas cited the widespread use of seat belts by Palestinian drivers as evidence of the advance of the rule of law in the territories. Not surprisingly, says Tobin, Abbas does not appear to command much respect within his party.
To add to the dark comedy, the General Assembly of Fatah unanimously adopted a resolution calling for an investigation into Yassar Arafat’s death in 2004 from a mysterious illness. This will prove to be a difficult inquest, the main suspect, a virus known as HIV, having died along with its host.
Some of the proceedings, however, were devoid of even dark humor. Khaled Abu Toameh reported that “many Fatah operatives, including some of Abbas’s closest allies in Ramallah, have made it known that they would oppose any move to abandon the ‘armed struggle’ option.” Moreover, “Fatah leaders responded with loud applause when two terrorists who committed the worst terror attack in Israel’s history were referred to as heroic martyrs by former PA Prime Minister Abu AlaaIndeed.”
Even reporters from the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times were able to find delegates who insisted that “armed resistance” against Israel is still the essence of Fatah. The same theme was recently articulated on Palestinian television when President Abbas’s security adviser stated:
Jerusalem needs thousands of martyrs. If we live to see the day, and you become the leaders of the future, mark my words: It is impossible for Jerusalem to be restored to us without thousands of martyrs.
In short, our fantasy peace partner for Israel still possesses two characteristics that are fatal to any real peace partner hoping for concessions: Fatah is bloodthirsty in its animus towards the party that will have to grant the concessions and it is too ineffectual to command even a trace of that party’s respect.