The principles espoused by Fatah establish that Palestine is a land for all Palestinians; it is an Arab land that all Arab Brethren should join to liberate.
The movement was established by Yasser Arafat and a group of his comrades in 1959. Through its primary media platform, Filastinouna (Our Palestine), a periodical issued in Beirut under the management of Toufic Khoury, Fatah undertook the mission of introducing itself and disseminating its principles. It attracted many revolutionary groups before launching its armed struggle in 1965 when the movement tried to blow up one of Eilaboun’s main pipelines, which Israel was using to steal Arab water by diverting the course of the Jordan River towards Tiberias’ water tank.
The launch of the armed struggle in January 1965 constituted the true birth of the modern Palestinian resistance after the Nakba (catastrophe). It restored the image of the Palestinian identity and national personality and drew attention to the rightful cause of the Palestinians and to its distinct standing among all the movements of liberation around the world. Fatah summarized its goals as follows:
Liberating Palestine, putting an end to the Israeli settlement and realizing the intrinsic rights of the Palestinian people, including its right to self-determination, an inalienable and non-negotiable right acknowledged and affirmed by the International Community, its right to establish an independent and sovereign state on the liberated Palestinian land, with Jerusalem as its capital and the right of Palestinian refugees to return and to be compensated, according to the UN charter and the General Assembly’s resolution no. 194.
The struggle stems from the right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation and to fight against settlement, expulsion, deportation and racial discrimination, a right enshrined within international laws and charters.
The Fatah movement revolved its strategy around the Palestinian people and its struggle and the fact that it has no alternatives to its land; hence, the movement mobilized efforts across all fields to affirm Palestine’s independent national personality and consolidate its identity.
The Palestinian people have a clear identity and a sense of belonging. They have been struggling for roughly a century in order to preserve their land and national identity and to liberate their land from occupation and settlement. The Arab Palestinians are a unified entity both within the country and in the diasporas.
The Fatah movement is driven by the fact that the Palestinian people are an Arab people and an integral part of the Arab nation.
Palestine is the Holy Land for all three religions; Islam is the religion of the majority of Palestinians and all other religions are accorded equal sanctity and respect. The Fatah movement prohibits all forms discrimination based on religion, doctrines or level of piety among Palestinians and respects the freedom of worship.
The Fatah movement seeks always to develop and strengthen its international relations and to widen its circle of friends and allies, strategically abiding by the International Law and the UN Charter. In its foreign relationships, Fatah draws on the fact that it is a national liberation movement countering occupation, premising its popular and official activity on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, independence and return to Palestine. It is also based on the protection safeguarded by the International Humanitarian Law, particularly the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention concerned with the protection of civilians in times of war and under foreign occupation as well as on the provisions of the International Law, which affirmed the right of peoples to resist occupation and to struggle for their freedom, independence and self-determination.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the Fatah movement has been facing numerous challenges. With the onset of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, the return to armed struggle and commando operations became a hard equation for the Fatah movement command, particularly after the political negotiations it had brokered with Israel, from the Madrid Conference of 1991 to all the subsequent agreements, including the Oslo Accord and its ensuing security obligations. Because of his elevated symbolism in the eyes of Palestinians, the death of the movement’s leader, Yasser Arafat, constituted a major turning point in the path of Fatah and in the national Palestinian path in general. However, one of the toughest blows dealt to Fatah was its defeat in the 2006 legislative elections against its primary rival, Hamas. No sooner had Fatah swallowed the blow than Hamas took over the Gaza strip in 2007. As a result, voices were raised within the Fatah movement, at various levels, urging the need to convene the Fatah conference, which had been absent for years. The conference lent itself to restoring the efficiency of the movement and to renewing its command and unity under the chairmanship of “Abou Mazen”.