Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan, once considered a key ally in Washington’s drive to broker a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal, announced this week that Hamas need not recognize Israel’s right to exist because Fatah never did. View his interview on Palestinian television here.
Dahlan, who has been living in Egypt since Hamas conquered the Gaza Strip and ousted Fatah from the territory in June 2007, re-entered the Palestinian political sphere after Operation Cast Lead. Dahlan’s comments come as Egypt announced that Fatah and Hamas failed to negotiate a unity government in reconciliation talks that took place this month in Cairo. Hamas refuses to accept past commitments made by the PLO, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
Fatah’s charter still calls for the destruction of Israel, but the organization has downplayed this to the West in recent years. Dahlan’s comment demonstrates Fatah’s willingness to increase its anti-Israel rhetoric in order to compete with Hamas. Polls taken this month reveal that Hamas’ popularity has risen since Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza.