Fatah continues to be the dominant force within the PLO and PA, although the emergence of Hamas and its victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections in 2006 posed a serious challenge to Fatah and the PLO as a whole. These factional lines are reflected to varying degrees in refugee camps, Jerusalem, and municipal and union elections.
The infighting between Fatah and Hamas in 2007, combined with Israel’s separation policy, has caused deep divisions within Palestinian politics, leaving Hamas as the de facto government in Gaza and Fatah in control of the PA in the West Bank.
Although some Palestinians have been organising and operating outside or across these factional lines, politics is still largely determined by Fatah and Hamas. The duopoly that they effectively exercise over the Palestinian political system by virtue of their force of arms and extensive patronage networks further constrains the emergence of new political initiatives.
The PA’s Basic Law defines Palestine’s system of governance as democratic, multi-party and pluralistic. Yet the absence of a law on political parties makes it nearly impossible to register new political parties, open associated bank accounts, and legally fundraise.
Palestinian citizens of Israel have, meanwhile, be engaging in the Israeli political system since 1949 and have established their own well established forms of local representation.