Monday, June 18, 2007

Fatah's hold on the West Bank is tenuous

The world is rushing to embrace the conventional wisdom of "Gaza=extremist Hamas, West Bank=moderate Fatah" and therefore use this as a basis of pushing the "peace" process forward, rewarding Mahmoud Abbas for his "moderation," and so forth.

The problem is that, like most conventional wisdom, this is a gross oversimplification.

In the local PA elections of 2005, before the Hamas victory in the legislative elections, Hamas won the majority of seats in Nablus (73% of the vote to Fatah's 13%) , Al-Bireh (72% of the vote) and Jenin (winning eight seats to Fatah's four.) Fatah didn't even win a majority in Ramallah; although it outpolled Hamas there it ended up tied with the Popular Front.

In other words, backing the corrupt and tattered PLO government in the West Bank may be as stupid as supporting Fatah in Gaza was.

Palestinian Arabs like to support winners, and Fatah is anything but a winner. Its inability to stand up to the numerically smaller Hamas forces in Gaza was nothing less than disgraceful in the Arab mind. Betting on Fatah now is as foolhardy as it ever has been.

One would hope, in vain, that the "experts" in the State Department and Kadima would know this.