Fatah, the party that dominates the Palestinian Authority, just held its first official gathering in 20 years andsome reportsclaimed the conference produced a strong commitment to peace and reconciliation within a rejuvenated organization. The reality is not quite as rosy.
The Fatah that emerged from this event has a chance of strengthening its standing against Hamas, and there is a possibility, however remote, that some of the new faces in the leadership can start the scrubbing required to clean up the party's reputation as a den of corrupt politicians living the high life on international aid -- a reputation highlighted by the rows of shiny cars outside the meeting venue. Fatah's conference was broadcast to Palestinian viewers, in sharp contrast to the secretive working of its Hamas rival in Gaza. And the mere fact that elections took place within a party that was once a fully-controlled fiefdom of one man, Yasser Arafat, counts as progress.
Nonetheless, those who saw in the event an unqualified push to take the steps towards peace with Israel missed much of what transpired.