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New Palestinian political movement aims to break dominance of Abbas, Hamas

Fatah and Hamas dominate Palestinian politics, but are bitter rivals. [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 January, 2019

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Five Palestinian factions are forming a new political body in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in an attempt to break the political duopoly of Fatah and Hamas.

Five Palestinian factions are forming a new political body in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in an attempt to break the political duopoly of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and Gaza-rulers Hamas.

The factions announced the formation of 'The Democratic Caucus' at a news conference on Thursday, with the stated aim of challenging the two main Palestinian political parties.

Leaders said they would work toward holding presidential and parliamentary elections, and protecting human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The new coalition is comprised of leftist and secular political parties, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) led by Mustafa Barghouti, the Palestinian People's Party, FIDA, and other independent national figures.

Fatah was founded in the 1950s by the Palestinian Diaspora in Kuwait, including late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and came to dominate the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) founded in 1964.

The PLO is an umbrella organisation comprising political parties, but Hamas is not a member.

The PLO is the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

Since succeeding Yasser Arafat in 2004 as leader of Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, and the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas has purged political rivals and stifled dissent through authoritarian policies.

Founded in 1987 during the first Palestinian Intifada, Hamas entered politics in 2005 as a challenger to Fatah, long seen as corrupt and undemocratic, and won Palestinian elections held in 2006.

A year later, Hamas wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas's Fatah government during bitter infighting, with subsequent efforts to reconcile the two parties yet to yield results.

The split between the two factions persists and has defied several reconciliation attempts. A range of issues have kept the two sides apart, including Hamas's refusal to disarm its military wing.

Palestinian elections have been indefinitely postponed due to political discord between Fatah and Hamas.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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