Inter-Palestinian discord is nothing but difference of opinion between Fatah on one the hand and Hamas on the other. However, it seems that the Palestinian division runs deeper than we thought.
Fatah itself suffers from serious divisions that first emerged in the wake of Black September in 1970 in Jordan. These divisions increased following the Lebanese Civil War. Then matters reached a dead end with the Oslo talks and the agreement between the then Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel. However, the severity of these divisions surfaced recently after Farouk al Qaddoumi accused Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan of somehow or other plotting to poison and kill the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
Of course, Palestinian public opinion was enraged by this statement and many considered it a clear example of political “bankruptcy.” Al Qaddoumi, or Abu al Lutf as his fellow comrades used to call him, no longer has a role in the Palestinian political arena. All significant files have been taken away from him, completely taking him out of the picture. He has now become vulnerable to exploitation by those who want to hammer the final nail in Fatah’s coffin amid certain regional conditions and a hopeless atmosphere with respect to Israel. As a matter of fact, what al Qaddoumi did is a kind of preparation to hand over power to Hamas even in the West Bank and to do away with the credibility of Fatah’s symbols, whether they were members of the Old Guards or the future generation. Of course, we should all question why al Qaddoumi chose this time in particular to level these accusations and why he had kept silent all these years when he could have said what he had to say.
Al Qaddoumi felt that he does not have much time left and that his status was beginning to decline, and that the baton would most probably be handed over to Dahlan or Marwan Barghouti after the death of Mahmoud Abbas. He felt that he will only have a presence in the memory of the resistance and not in the future of the state. Al Qaddoumi became very bitter when he realized that he was only being used to offset Mahmoud al Zahar’s appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of Hamas. After that, al Qaddoumi was discharged from his temporary post and dramatically and decisively replaced by Riyad al Maliki. That practically marked the very end of the role of the political circle that al Qaddoumi chaired for years from its headquarters in Tunisia.
This tragic scene is nothing but a new episode of the PLO drama. George Habash, Nayef Hawatmeh, Abu Mousa, Abu Al-Abbas and Abu Nedal, all in one way or another sought to establish their own independent entities, identities and orientations. However, this merely led to more disagreements and contradiction in positions, thus weakening the negotiation position of the Palestinians before an enemy that revels in such scenes.
The love of remaining in power and the unwillingness to engage in teamwork continues to be a main defect in Palestinian political ideology. This is a fact that many parties – that like to fish in troubled waters to serve numerous purposes and achieve significant political gains – have become aware of.
Before liberating Palestinian lands, the liberation of the political mindset should be achieved first.