Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah have reached a new accord – but what’s the difference?

The “Guardian” has this brief comparison:


Founded 1987 as offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt by a group in Gaza including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, later assassinated by Israel. Military wing is the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades. Its founding charter committed to the destruction of Israel and the founding of a state based on Islamist values.

Regarded as a terrorist organisation in the west for its attacks on Israelis it has in recent years offered a more nuanced view of Israel including the offer in the past of a 10-year truce in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967.

Its entry into mainstream politics saw it sweep Palestinian elections which Israel, the west and Mahmoud Abbas’s rival Fatah movement refused to recognise, leading to Hamas asserting its control over Fatah in the Gaza Strip in 2007, leading to the rift between the two main Palestinian movements.

Seats won 74 in 2006 PLC elections.

Political strength One poll last year put support at 20%, but analysts in Gaza believe it is closer to 30%.

Armed strength Israeli estimate in 2011 said armed wing numbered 10,000.


Founded The largest faction under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Fatah was founded in 1959 by a group including Yasser Arafat, who led it until his death in 2004 and who signed the Oslo peace accords with Israel. Fatah was surprised by the outcome of the 2006 elections which saw many Palestinians reject a movement they believed had become self-serving and out of touch.

Since Hamas’s assumption of power in Gaza the two factions have been at odds, with both sides arresting supporters of the other in the areas they control. Despite efforts to bring about a reconciliation, and two previous agreements, little progress has been made in the past.

Seats won 45 in 2006.

Political strength A poll published last month taking Gaza and the West Bank together predicted victory for Fatah in presidential and legislative council elections by 43% to 28%.


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