Palestinian Fatah marks 55 years with West Bank marches
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Hundreds of Palestinians marched through the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday to mark the 55th anniversary of the Fatah movement led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Established by Yasser Arafat in 1965, Fatah led the armed struggle against Israel for decades as the main component of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO recognized Israel in the early 1990s at the start of the peace process, and since then it has been committed to a two-state solution.
Around a dozen masked men led the march through Ramallah, firing several rounds of gunfire into the air. Similar marches are planned elsewhere in the West Bank in the coming days.
Fatah has long vied with the Islamic militant group Hamas for leadership of the Palestinian national struggle. In 2007, the two factions battled one another in Gaza, leading to the Hamas takeover of the coastal strip. Several attempts at reconciliation have failed.
The peace process with Israel ground to a halt over a decade ago, leaving the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority with limited control over parts of the occupied West Bank but little hope of achieving an independent state anytime soon.
Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinian Authority wants all three territories to form a future state living alongside Israel.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently vowed to annex large parts of the West Bank, which would make it virtually impossible to establish a viable Palestinian state.
The popularity of Abbas, and by extension Fatah, has plunged in recent years as he has failed to achieve an independent state or heal the rift with Hamas. Many Palestinians also accuse the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority of rampant corruption.