Info-Palestine : We would ask you, first of all, on the issue of political organizations in occupied Palestine.
Regardless of their representativeness, how would you rank these organizations ? What are the relevant criteria to differentiate ?
Alaa Tarir : As of today, Palestinian political parties are mainly divided into three groups : religious, nationalist secular, and leftist progressive parties. In addition to the ideological differences, the criteria to differentiate between the different political parties also depend on their position on the future of Palestine, Oslo Peace Accords, role of the Palestinian Authority, resistance strategies, armed resistance and “peace” talks, role of religion in daily life, role of religion in state-building, law, and social contract, social and economic programs, role of women and social justice, and regional and global links. Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the “ruling party” was added to the list of categories which put Fatah, and later on Hamas, in an identity and national crises. The golden era for the Palestinian Left ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the First Intifada.
Since then the Palestinian Left continues to diminish, which is associated with political and social consequences. The diminishing of the Palestinian Left was countered by the rise of Political Islam and the emergence of Islamic Jihad and The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas. These Islamic movements transformed gradually from social groups and movements, to political parties and resistance factions with military wings. Their ideology underlines the centrality of religion in their strategies and daily behaviors, which extends to their regressive social program. Their armed resistance strategy at least until 2006 was a key characteristic that differentiated them from the nationalist secular Fatah party for instance.
Over the last 10 years though Hamas witnessed dramatic changes in its strategies and tools and became further away from its Charter which is something that Western policy circles generally ignore. Hamas of 2016 is different than the Hamas of 1996 at the political front. Finally, Fatah has shifted dramatically in its strategies and principles and moved from a revolutionary party to a “ruling party” dominated by its supreme leader. The overlap between Fatah and the Palestinian Authority harmed the party itself and the national Palestinian struggle. As a “ruling party”, it was impossible for Fatah to accept the electoral defeat in 2006 which resulted in an intra-Palestinian Divide that, by now, Fatah and Hamas are equally responsible for.