The official Fatah emblem depicts two fists holding rifles, with a hand grenade in between. In the background is a map of Israel and the occuppied territories.
Founded in the late 1950s, Fatah was the first exile group to launch attacks against Israel. It lost its majority in the Palestinian Parliament to Hamas in 2006, but Fatah still controls the presidency, the highest elected position in the government. Here, a guide to Fatah's history and leaders:
Full Name: Harakat al Tahrir al Falastini (Palestinian Liberation Movement)
Origins: Founded by Yasser Arafat and a small group of Palestinian nationalists in the late 1950s, Fatah was the first exile group to launch attacks against Israel.
Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is a loose umbrella group of a number of Palestinian organizations founded in Cairo in the mid-1960s. Fatah, then led by Yasser Arafat, quickly became the most powerful member of the PLO, which Arafat also led.
The PLO was initially based largely in Jordan. But after fighting between PLO guerrillas and the Jordanian army in 1970 (a conflict known as Black September), the PLO was forced out of Jordan. Most of the guerrillas — and Yasser Arafat — settled in Lebanon. The PLO then launched frequent attacks on Israel from their Lebanese bases, prompting two Israeli invasions of Lebanon (in 1978 and 1982).
In 1993 the PLO officially renounced terrorism and recognized Israel's right to exist. In exchange, PLO leaders were allowed to return from exile in Tunisia and recognized as the Palestinian Authority, the governing body of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. They were also allowed to set up Palestinian security forces. Although the PLO has officially renounced terrorism, some of its member organizations have been accused of or claimed responsibility for continued attacks.
Election: On Jan. 25, 2006, Fatah lost its majority in the Palestinian Parliament to Hamas. Fatah still controls the presidency, the highest elected position in the government, as well as roughly 70,000 police and security forces throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These forces regularly clash with Hamas loyalists.
On the Ground: Despite its violent past, Fatah is now seen as the more moderate Palestinian party. But Fatah's leadership of the Palestinian Authority was seen by many Palestinians as corrupt and incompetent.