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Cablegate: Program Update: Ndi Focus Groups Discuss Fatah

VZCZCXRO2082
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #1718 2281422
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161422Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8722
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 001718

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM ECON PREL KMPI PAO KPA IS
SUBJECT: PROGRAM UPDATE: NDI FOCUS GROUPS DISCUSS FATAH

REFORM

1. Summary: As part of its NEA/PI funded political party
strengthening program, the National Democratic Institute
(NDI) conducted focus groups with Fatah activists in
Bethlehem and Nablus. Focus group participants evidenced
continued interest and enthusiasm for reform of Fatah to
enhance its viability as a political party and identified
internal Fatah structures, the absence of youth outreach, and
the development and selection of new leaders as Fatah,s
greatest challenges. This cable is based upon the detailed
minutes of each session. MEPI coordinator did not attend
either focus group. End Summary

Focus Groups: Nablus, Bethlehem
-------------------------------

2. On July 27 and August 4, NDI convened Fatah activist focus
groups in Nablus and Bethlehem to discuss topics including:
Fatah's challenges and opportunities; internal reform; Fatah
relations with local communities; internal elections; and
potential activities for the next year. There was no USG
presence at either focus group, but MEPI coordinator reviewed
detailed minutes of both sessions. The minutes indicate the
following conclusions.

Fatah's Challenges: Too Many Committees, Too Little Vision
--------------------------------------------- -------------

3. Fatah is still trying to evolve into a functioning
political party: Activists want to see Fatah develop a clear
political platform, hold internal elections to determine
leadership, communicate more effectively (between the
leadership and the base) and develop mechanisms to reach out
to new members -- particularly young people -- and bring them
into the movement. Focus group participants pointed to
Fatah,s historical identity as the leadership of the
Palestinian national resistance and drive for independence,
but activists, especially in Nablus, criticized Fatah,s lack
of a strategic vision. One participant said, "The last time
the Fatah vision and mission were upgraded was in 1989."
Activists also criticized Fatah,s numerous, overlapping
organizational structures. One activist said, "There are in
Nablus 33 institutions belonging to Fatah but there is no
coordination among them."

4. Fatah is not ready for general elections: Activists in
Bethlehem unanimously agreed that Fatah will not be ready for
general elections until there are internal elections for
party leaders. Nablus activists were hesitant to hold general
elections for a number of reasons including the possible
outcome and the situation in Gaza.

5. Fatah,s involvement in the PA led to increased
corruption: One participant explained that Fatah signed
agreements changing its platform from resisting to
establishing a state. He said, "We transformed Fatah members
into people only interested in having a job in the government
and getting a salary." Several activists in Bethlehem
suggested that Fatah members should not be allowed to work in
the PA.

6. Fatah is not interacting successfully on a local level:
One Bethlehem activist said the people blame Fatah for Hamas
winning the elections, and another said Fatah,s standing is
bad, because of its performance in the PA and in the security
apparatus. A third Bethlehem activist said Fatah,s
popularity relative to Hamas is deteriorating, because the
movement does not deliver benefits directly to the people.
Nablus activists also criticized Fatah for "neglecting the
masses."

Potential Fatah Program Ideas
-----------------------------

7. The Bethlehem focus group participants mentioned the
following program ideas: support for families of martyrs and
prisoners, permanent youth centers, sports clubs, increasing
women's involvement in Fatah, and supporting volunteerism.

8. The Nablus focus group participants suggested that Fatah:
create projects based on community needs, target students
through tutoring lessons, train Fatah members to reach out to
potential new members, and enlist women activists to enter
homes to speak with community members. They emphasized that
Fatah must address the "security chaos."
DUFFY

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