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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fata (Arabic:
Fat), formerly the Palestinian National
Liberation Movement,[2] (Levantine Arabic: [fate]) is a
leading Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the
confederated multi-party Palestine Liberation Organization
Fatah is generally considered to have had a strong
involvement in revolutionary struggle in the past and has
maintained a number of militant groups.[3][4][5][6][7] Fatah had
been closely identified with the leadership of its founder
Yasser Arafat, until his death in 2004. Since Arafat's
departure, factionalism within the ideologically diverse
movement has become more apparent.
In the 2006 parliamentary election, the party lost its majority
in the Palestinian parliament to Hamas. Having resigned all its
cabinet positions, it did not then assume the role of main
opposition party. Fatah's size is estimated at 6,0008,000
fighters with 45300 politicians. However, the Hamas
legislative victory led to a split between the two main
Palestinian political parties, with Fatah retaining control of the
Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank. In April
2011, officials from Hamas and Fatah announced that both
parties had reached an initial deal to unify into one
government, with plans for elections to be held in 2012.[8]


Mahmoud Abbas


Yasser Arafat


"Ya Jabal Ma yhezak Reeh"

("The winds cannot shake the


1959 as a political movement

1965 as a political party[1]


Ramallah, West Bank

Youth wing

Fatah Youth


Palestinian nationalism,
Social democracy,

Political position

centre left to left wing


Socialist International
Progressive Alliance
Party of European Socialists
45 / 132
Party flag

On 2 February 2014, the Jerusalem Post reported that Fatah

wanted US Secretary of State John Kerry prosecuted before
the International Criminal Court for allegedly having
threatened the life of Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas.[9]

1 Etymology
2 Structure
3 Constitution
4 History
4.1 Establishment
4.2 Battle of Karameh (
Politics of Palestine
Political parties

4.3 Black September

4.4 Lebanon
4.5 Presidential and legislative elections
4.6 Internal discord
4.7 2009 Fatah Movement Assembly
4.7.1 Elections to Central Committee
and Revolutionary Councils
5 Armed factions
6 Relationship with Israel
7 See also
8 References
9 Bibliography
10 External links

The full name of the movement is arakat at-tarr al-waan al-Filasn, meaning
the "Palestinian National Liberation Movement". From this was crafted the reverse acronym Fat (Fatah) meaning
"opening", "conquering", or "victory".[10] The word "fat" or "fatah" is used in religious discourse to signify the
Islamic expansion in the first centuries of Islamic history as in Fat al-Sham, the "conquering of the Levant".
"Fatah" also has religious significance in that it is the name of the 48th sura (chapter) of the Qu'ran which, according
to major Muslim commentators, details the story of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. (During the peaceful two years after
the Hudaybiyyah treaty, many converted to Islam, increasing the strength of the Muslim side. It was the breach of
this treaty with the Quraish[11] that triggered the conquest of Mecca. This Islamic precedent was cited by Yasser
Arafat as justification for his signing the Oslo Accords with Israel.[12][13]

Fatah's two most important decision-making bodies are the Central Committee and Revolutionary Council. The
Central Committee is mainly an executive body, while the Revolutionary Council is Fatah's legislative body.[14][15]

In August 2009, at Fatah's Sixth General Conference in Bethlehem, Fatah delegates drew up a new "internal


The Fatah movement, which espoused a Palestinian nationalist ideology

in which Palestinian Arabs would be liberated by their own actions, was
founded in 1959 by members of the Palestinian diaspora more
specifically, principally by professionals working in the Persian Gulf
States who had studied in Cairo or Beirut and had been refugees in
Gaza. The founders included Yasser Arafat, then head of the General
Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) at Cairo University; Salah Khalaf;
Khalil al-Wazir; and Khaled Yashruti, then GUPS head in Beirut.[17]

Yasser Arafat was the main founder

of Fatah and led the movement until
his death in 2004.

Fatah became the dominant force in Palestinian politics after the Six-Day
War in 1967. It dealt the coup de grce to the pre-Baathist Arab
nationalism that had inspired George Habash's Arab Nationalist

Movement, the former dominant mainly Palestinian political party.[17] The

November 1959 edition of Fatah's underground journal Filastinuna
Nida al-Hayat indicated that the movement was motivated by the status
of the Palestinian refugees in the Arab world:
The youth of the catastrophe (shibab al-nakba) are dispersed... Life in the tent has become as
miserable as death... [T]o die for our beloved Motherland is better and more honorable than life,
which forces us to eat our daily bread under humiliations or to receive it as charity at the cost of our
honour... We, the sons of the catastrophe, are no longer willing to live this dirty, despicable life, this
life which has destroyed our cultural, moral and political existence and destroyed our human
From the beginning, the armed struggle as manifested in the 1936
1939 Arab revolt in Palestine and the military role of Palestinian fighters
under the leadership of Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni in the 1948 Arab-Israeli
War was central to Fatah's ideology of liberating Palestine.[17]
Fatah joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1967. It was
immediately allocated 33 of 105 seats in the PLO Executive Committee.
Founder Yasser Arafat became Chairman of the PLO in 1969, after the
position was ceded to him by Yahya Hammuda.[17] According to the
BBC, "Mr Arafat took over as chairman of the executive committee of
the PLO in 1969, a year that Fatah is recorded to have carried out 2,432
guerrilla attacks on Israel."[19]

Battle of Karameh
Throughout 1968, Fatah and other Palestinian armed groups were the
Child holding Fatah flag and weapon
target of a major Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) operation in the Jordanian
during its 48th anniversary festival in
village of Karameh, where the Fatah headquarters as well as a midGaza.
sized Palestinian refugee camp were located. The town's name is the
Arabic word for "dignity", which elevated its symbolism to the Arab
people, especially after the Arab defeat in 1967. The operation was in response to attacks against Israel, including
rockets strikes from Fatah and other Palestinian militias into the occupied West Bank. Knowledge of the operation
was available well ahead of time, and the government of Jordan (as well as a number of Fatah commandos)

informed Arafat of Israel's large-scale military preparations. Upon hearing the news, many guerrilla groups in the
area, including George Habash's newly formed group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and
Nayef Hawatmeh's breakaway organization the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), withdrew
their forces from the town. Fatah leaders were advised by a pro-Fatah Jordanian divisional commander to
withdraw their men and headquarters to nearby hills, but on Arafat's orders, Fatah remained, and the Jordanian
Army agreed to back them if heavy fighting ensued.[17]
On the night of 21 March, the IDF attacked Karameh with heavy weaponry, armored vehicles and fighter jets.[17]
Fatah held its ground, surprising the Israeli military. As Israel's forces intensified their campaign, the Jordanian Army
became involved, causing the Israelis to retreat in order to avoid a full-scale war.[20] By the end of the battle, nearly
150 Fatah militants had been killed, as well as twenty Jordanian soldiers and twenty-eight Israeli soldiers. Despite
the higher Arab death toll, Fatah considered themselves victorious because of the Israeli army's rapid

Black September
In the late 1960s, tensions between Palestinians and the Jordanian government increased greatly; heavily armed
Arab resistance elements had created a virtual "state within a state" in Jordan, eventually controlling several
strategic positions in that country. After their victory in the Battle of Karameh, Fatah and other Palestinian militias
began taking control of civil life in Jordan. They set up roadblocks, publicly humiliated Jordanian police forces,
molested women and levied illegal taxes all of which Arafat either condoned or ignored.[21][22]
In 1970, the Jordanian government moved to regain control over its territory, and the next day, King Hussein
declared martial law.[22] By 25 September, the Jordanian army achieved dominance in the fighting, and two days
later Arafat and Hussein agreed to a series of ceasefires. The Jordanian army inflicted heavy casualties upon the
Palestinians including civilians who suffered approximately 3,500 fatalities. Two thousand Fatah fighters
managed to enter Syria. They crossed the border into Lebanon to join Fatah forces in that country, where they set
up their new headquarters.[23] A large group of guerrilla fighters led by Fatah field commander Abu Ali Iyad held
out the Jordanian Army's offensive in the northern city of Ajlun until they were decisively defeated in July 1971.
Abu Ali Iyad was executed and surviving members of his commando force formed the Black September
Organization, a splinter group of Fatah. In November 1971, the group assassinated Jordanian prime minister Wasfi
al-Tal as retaliation to Abu Ali Iyad's execution.[24]
In the 1960s and the 1970s, Fatah provided training to a wide range of European, Middle Eastern, Asian, and
African militant and insurgent groups, and carried out numerous attacks against Israeli targets in Western Europe
and the Middle East during the 1970s. Some militant groups that affiliated themselves to Fatah, and some of the
fedayeen within Fatah itself, carried out civilian-aircraft hijackings and terrorist attacks, attributing them to Black
September, Abu Nidal's Fatah-Revolutionary Council, Abu Musa's group, the PFLP, and the PFLP-GC. Fatah
received weapons, explosives and training from the Soviet Union/Russia and some Communist regimes of East
European states. China and Algeria also provided munitions.

Since the death of Eljamal in 1968, the Palestinian cause had a large base of supporters in Lebanon.

Although hesitant at first to take sides in the conflict, Arafat and Fatah played an important role in the Lebanese
Civil War. Succumbing to pressure from PLO sub-groups such as the PFLP, DFLP and the Palestine Liberation
Front (PLF), Fatah aligned itself with the Communist and Nasserist Lebanese National Movement (LNM).
Although originally aligned with Fatah, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad feared a loss of influence in Lebanon and
switched sides. He sent his army, along with the Syrian-backed Palestinian factions of as-Sa'iqa and the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) led by Ahmad Jibril to fight alongside the
radical right-wing Christian forces against the PLO and the LNM. The primary component of the Christian militias
was the Maronite Phalangists.[25]
Phalangist forces killed twenty-six Fatah trainees on a bus in April 1975, marking the official start of the 15 year
long Lebanese civil war. Later that year, an alliance of Christian militias overran the Palestinian refugee camp of
Karantina killing over 1,000 civilians.[26] The PLO and LNM retaliated by attacking the town of Damour, a
Phalangist stronghold, killing 684 civilians.[25] As the civil war progressed over 2 years of urban warfare, both
parties resorted to massive artillery duels and heavy use of sniper nests, while atrocities and war crimes were
committed by both sides.
In 1976, with strategic planning help from the Lebanese Army, the alliance of Christian militias, spearheaded by the
National Liberal Party of former President Cammille Chamoun militant branch, the noumour el ahrar (NLP Tigers),
took a pivotal refugee camp in the Eastern part of Beirut, the Tel al-Zaatar camp, after a six-month siege, also
known as Tel al-Zaatar massacre in which hundreds perished.[27] Arafat and Abu Jihad blamed themselves for not
successfully organizing a rescue effort.[25]
PLO cross-border raids against Israel grew somewhat during the late 1970s. One of the most severe known as
the Coastal Road massacre occurred on 11 March 1978. A force of nearly a dozen Fatah fighters landed their
boats near a major coastal road connecting the city of Haifa with Tel Aviv-Yafo. There they hijacked a bus and
sprayed gunfire inside and at passing vehicles, killing thirty-seven civilians.[28] In response, the IDF launched
Operation Litani three days later, with the goal of taking control of Southern Lebanon up to the Litani River. The
IDF achieved this goal, and Fatah withdrew to the north into Beirut.[29]
Israel invaded Lebanon again in 1982. Beirut was soon besieged and bombarded by the IDF;[25] to end the siege,
the US and European governments brokered an agreement guaranteeing safe passage for Arafat and Fatah
guarded by a multinational force to exile in Tunis. Despite the exile, many Fatah commanders and fighters
remained in Lebanon.[25]

Presidential and legislative elections

Until his death, Arafat was the head of the Palestinian National Authority, the provisional entity created as a result
of the Oslo Accords. Farouk Kaddoumi is the current Fatah chairman, elected to the post soon after Arafat's death
in 2004.
Fatah has member party status at the Socialist International[30] and "Observer Party" status within the Party of
European Socialists.[31]

Since 2000, the group has been a member of the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces,[32] which includes both
PLO and non-PLO factions, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both listed as terrorist organizations in
the West.[33]
Fatah endorsed Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian presidential election of 2005.
In 2005, Hamas won in nearly all the municipalities it contested. Political analyst Salah Abdel-Shafi told the BBC
about the difficulties of Fatah leadership: "I think it's very, very serious it's becoming obvious that they can't agree
on anything." Fatah is "widely seen as being in desperate need of reform," as "the PA's performance has been a
story of corruption and incompetence and Fatah has been tainted."[34]

Internal discord
In December 2005, jailed Intifada leader Marwan Barghouti broke ranks with the party and announced that he had
formed a new political list to run in the elections called the al-Mustaqbal ("The Future"), mainly composed of
members of Fatah's "Young Guard." These younger leaders have repeatedly expressed frustration with the
entrenched corruption in the party, which has been run by the "Old Guard" who returned from exile in Tunisia
following the Oslo Accords. Al-Mustaqbal was to campaign against Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian legislative
election, presenting a list including Mohammed Dahlan, Kadoura Fares, Samir Mashharawi and Jibril Rajoub.[35]
However, on 28 December 2005, the leadership of the two factions agreed to submit a single list to voters, headed
by Barghouti, who began actively campaigning for Fatah from his jail cell.[36][37]
There have been numerous other expressions of discontent within Fatah, which is just holding its first general
congress in two decades. Because of this, the movement remains largely dominated by aging cadres from the preOslo era of Palestinian politics. Several of them gained their positions through the patronage of Yasser Arafat, who
balanced above the different factions, and the era after his death in 2004 has seen increased infighting among these
groups, who jockey for influence over future development, the political line, funds, and constituencies. The prospect
of Abbas leaving power in the coming years has also exacerbated tensions.
There have been no open splits within the older generation of Fatah politicians since the 1980s, though there is
occasional friction between members of the top leadership. One founding member, Faruq al-Qaddumi (Abu Lutf),
continues to openly oppose the post-Oslo arrangements and has intensified his campaign for a more hardline
position from exile in Tunis. Since Arafat's death, he is formally head of Fatah's political bureau and chairman, but
his actual political following within Fatah appears limited. He has at times openly challenged the legitimacy of Abbas
and harshly criticized both him and Mohammed Dahlan, but despite threats to splinter the movement, he remains in
his position, and his challenges have so far been fruitless. Another influential veteran, Hani al-Hassan, has also
openly criticized the present leadership.
Fatah's internal conflicts have also, due to the creation of the Palestinian Authority, merged with the turf wars
between different PA security services, e.g., a longstanding rivalry between the West Bank (Jibril Rajoub) and
Gaza (Muhammad Dahlan) branches of the powerful Preventive Security Service. Foreign backing for different
factions contribute to conflict, e.g., with the United States generally seen as supportive of Abbas's overall leadership
and of Dahlan's security influence, and Syria alleged to promote Faruq al-Qaddumi's challenge to the present
leadership. The younger generations of Fatah, especially within the militant al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, have been
more prone to splits, and a number of lesser networks in Gaza and the West Bank have established themselves as
either independent organizations or joined Hamas. However, such overt breaks with the movement have still been
rather uncommon, despite numerous rivalries inside and between competing local Fatah groups.

2009 Fatah Movement Assembly

The Sixth General Assembly of the Fatah Movement, nearly 16 years after the Oslo Conference and 20 years since
the last Fatah convention began on 4 August 2009, in Bethlehem, West Bank after being repeatedly postponed
over conflicts ranging from who would be represented, to what venue would be acceptable.[38] More than 2,000
delegates attended the three-day meeting.[39]
The internal dissension was immediately obvious. Saudi King Abdullah told Fatah delegates meeting in Bethlehem
that divisions among the Palestinians were more damaging to their cause of an independent state than the Israeli
Fatah delegates resolved not to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks until preconditions were met. Among the 14
preconditions were the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, freezing all Israeli settlement
construction, and lifting the Gaza blockade.[41]
Some 400 Fatah members from the Gaza Strip were unable to attend the conference in Bethlehem after Hamas
barred them from traveling to the West Bank.[40]
Fatah was appealing to Palestinians who want a more hardline response to Israel by reaffirming its option for
"armed resistance" against Israel.[42] Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak described the adopted Fatah platform as
not very promising. However, he added that there was no other way but to sit down and strike a deal, calling on
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to enter negotiations.
Officials on the third day of the Fatah convention in Bethlehem unanimously accepted the proposal put forth by the
chairman of the Araft Institute stating that Israel had been behind the "assassination" of the late Palestinian Authority
Chairman and affirmed Fatah's request for international aid to probe the issue. Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel,
Danny Ayalon, said the conference was a "serious blow to peace" and "was another lost opportunity for the
Palestinian leadership to adopt moderate views."
Elections to Central Committee and Revolutionary Councils
Delegates voted to fill 18 seats on the 23-seat Central Committee of Fatah, and 81 seats of the 128-seat
Revolutionary Council after a week of deliberations. At least 70 new members entered the latter, with 20 seats
going to Fatah representatives from the Gaza Strip, 11 seats filled by women (the highest number of votes went to
one woman who spent years in Israeli jails for her role in the resistance), four seats went to Christians, and one was
filled by a Jewish-born convert to Islam, Uri Davis, the first Jewish-born person to be elected to the Revolutionary
Council since its founding in 1958. Fatah activists from the Palestinian diaspora were also represented and included
Samir Rifai, Fatah's secretary in Syria, and Khaled Abu Usba.
Elected to the central council was Fadwa Barghouti, the wife of Marwan Barghouti who is serving five life
sentences in Israel for his role in terrorist attacks on civilians in Israel during the Second Intifada.[43]

Armed factions

Fatah has maintained a number of militant groups since its founding. Its mainstream military branch is al-Assifa.
Fatah is generally considered to have had a strong involvement in terrorism in the past,[3][4][5][6][7] though unlike its
rival Islamist faction Hamas, Fatah is no longer regarded as a terrorist organization by any government. Fatah used
to be designated terrorist under Israeli law and was considered terrorist by the United States Department of State
and United States Congress until it renounced terrorism in 1988.[44][45][46][47][48]
Fatah has, since its inception, created, led or sponsored a number of armed groups and militias, some of which
have had an official standing as the movement's armed wing, and some of which have not been publicly or even
internally recognized as such. The group has also dominated various PLO and Palestinian Authority forces and
security services which were/are not officially tied to Fatah, but in practice have served as wholly pro-Fatah armed
units, and been staffed largely by members. The original name for Fatah's armed wing was al-Assifa ("The Storm"),
and this was also the name Fatah first used in its communiques, trying for some time to conceal its identity. This
name has since been applied more generally to Fatah armed forces, and does not correspond to a single unit today.
Other militant groups associated with Fatah include:
Force 17. Plays a role akin to the Presidential Guard for senior Fatah leaders. Created by Yassir Arafat.
Black September. A group formed by leading Fatah members in 1971, following the events of the "Black
September" in Jordan, to organize clandestine attacks with which Fatah did not want to be openly
associated. These included strikes against leading Jordanian politicians as a means of exacting vengeance and
raising the price for attacking the Palestinian movement; and also, most controversially, for "international
operations" (e.g. the Munich Olympics massacre), intended to put pressure on the US, Europe and Israel, to
raise the visibility of the Palestinian cause and to upstage radical rivals such as the PFLP. Fatah publicly
disassociated itself from the group, but it is widely believed that it enjoyed Arafat's direct or tacit backing. It
was discontinued in 19731974, as Fatah's political line shifted again, and the Black September operations
and the strategy behind them were seen as having become a political liability, rather than an asset.
Fatah Hawks. An armed militia active mainly until the mid-1990s.
Tanzim. A branch of Fatah under the leadership of Marwan Barghouti, with roots in the activism of the First
Intifada, which carried out armed attacks in the early days of the Second Intifada. It was later subsumed or
sidelined by the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Created during the Second Intifada to bolster the organization's militant standing
vis--vis the rival Hamas movement, which had taken the lead in attacks on Israel after 1993, and was
gaining rapidly in popularity with the advent of the Intifada. The Brigades are locally organized and have been
said to suffer from poor cohesion and internal discipline, at times ignoring ceasefires and other initiatives
announced by the central Fatah leadership. They are generally seen as tied to the "young guard" of Fatah
politics, organizing young members on the street level, but it is not clear that they form a faction in themselves
inside Fatah politics; rather, different Brigades units may be tied to different Fatah factional leaders.

Relationship with Israel

In 2006 Israel gave "light weapons and ammunition" to armed forces loyal to Fatah.[49]

See also
FatahHamas conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
List of Fatah members
List of political parties in the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian political violence

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Haghshenas, Seyyed Ali, "Social and political structure of Lebanon and its influence on [the] appearance of
[the] Amal Movement", Tehran, Iran, 2009.

External links
Official website (
Fatah's Constitution (

Wikimedia Commons has

media related to Fatah.

(Arabic) Al-Krama Newspaper (Fatah's PR Office) (

Definition of Fatah (

Interview on Radio France International with Fatah Central Committee member Abdallah Al Frangi
Collection of over 300 Fatah posters (
2009 Fatah Charter (
Attacks attributed to FATAH on the START terrorism database
Retrieved from ""
Categories: Fatah Palestine Liberation Organization Palestinian political parties Socialist International
Palestinian militant groups Organizations formerly designated as terrorist Political parties established in 1954
Palestinian nationalism IsraeliPalestinian conflict Parties related to the Party of European Socialists
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