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New Blood for Fatah and Hamas

What the Rise of Aloul and Sinwar Means for Palestinian Politics

Palestinians waving flags in Gaza City, December 2013. Suhaib Salem / REUTERS

Palestinian politicians tend to view term limits as casual suggestions. This is especially true in the case of the two largest Palestinian parties: the nominally secular Fatah, which manages the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, and the Islamist terror group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Yet those two factions’ usual disdain for smooth political transitions seemed to wane in February, when Hamas elected a military commander, Yehya Sinwar, to serve as its next leader in Gaza, and the longtime apparatchik Mahmoud al-Aloul became Fatah’s first-ever vice president. The elevation of both men may signal a hard-line shift in Palestinian politics.

FATAH’S NEW CONTENDER

For Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the head of Fatah, the appointment of Aloul as party vice president was a stroke of tactical genius. Abbas’ allies and rivals have hounded him for years about the need to appoint a deputy and to

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