Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement has held a show of strength in the west bank town of Bethlehem to commemorate the second anniversary of the death of the father of the movement, Yasser Arafat. Thousands attended the event, which included speeches, songs, a marching band, sports demonstrations, and also some opinions on how Abbas was faring as leader.
Many people interviewed noted Arafat had faced challenges to Fatah supremacy before, and emerged the winner. Some say he surely would have reined in Hamas, and others noted that even during the dark days of seige in his Ramallah headquarters, surrounded by the Israeli army, he had ensured civil servants were paid.
Meanwhile in Gaza Hamas leader and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said he might leave office if that were the price to pay to end the economic blockade on the Palestinian’s government. A deal to end the political deadlock between Hamas and Fatah is reportedly near completion, and would allow power-sharing in a national unity administration.