Fatah has no reason to make peace with Israel, and in fact a string of Palestinian officials have emphasized that it was PLO rather than Fatah that accepted a two-state solution. Theirs is a typical Arab deceit: Fatah Central Committee’s members individually approved the Oslo Accords before Fatah representatives in the PLO Council voted to support it. Arafat’s letter to Rabin, a part of the Oslo Accords, stipulates the PLO’s responsibility over any acts by its personnel—including Fatah. There was no formal agreement by Fatah, but none is necessary because entities must abide by the decisions of supra-bodies of which they are a part. Thus, international law takes precedence over national legislation. In the real world, written agreements matter little, as each party interprets them according to the current balance of power. In this sense, balance-of-power has never died as a method of foreign relations, but assumed a smokescreen of agreements.

As Israel reduces its military pressure on the Palestinians, the militants lose their incentive for the two-state “concession.” Instead of pounding or suffocating the Palestinians into signing a peace treaty, Israel has made their life sufficiently comfortable that formal independence won’t improve it—especially now that they have de facto independence. Their current situation is better than formal independence: they enjoy self-rule and international recognition even of Palestinian passports, but shoulder no responsibility for their economy, with Israel providing municipal services and jobs for them.

As IDF successfully eradicated terrorist presence from the territories, Fatah has remained distant from common Palestinians. Peres presented the terrorist group as a real power in order to make Arafat, who was then a nobody hiding in Tunis, into a peace puppet. Today, Fatah is still a gang with little connection to the Palestinian masses, hated for repressions and racketeering, and only able to rule by distributing huge amounts of foreign aid. A Fatah man can win presidential elections as the best-advertized thug, but the movement itself shows bleak results in municipal and parliamentary elections.

Fatah’s old leadership is really old; most of them are over the age of seventy. The young guard is more militant. Placing the Palestinian government under independent Fayad and pushing the gangsters away from governmental positions radicalized Fatah. Removed from the daily running of the country, they found militancy the only occupation available to them.

Democratic elections in the West Bank could bring moderates to power. Unaffiliated with Fatah, they might represent the majority of people who are tired on the conflict and want it over. Unlike the militant and ideologically driven Fatah, ordinary Palestinians couldn’t care less about the 1948 refugees and welcome Jewish settlements, which provide them with lucrative jobs. But Fatah and Hamas crush independent political expression. The would-be moderates cannot attract votes with aid, which remains Fatah’s domain. Even rich Palestinians cannot finance new parties because the government would immediately crack down on their income sources. Fatah will also crush any alternative political and philanthropic infrastructure.

In order to prevail, the West must recognize that Fatah is no longer congruent with Palestinian leadership. The terrorist group’s military and political wings are two separate entities by now. Common Palestinians can support ex-Fatah politicians who want some sort of quiet with Israel, but those politicians must rid themselves of the ballast of militants. The West must abandon the intransigent Fatah completely, support a few moderate parties, and channel aid through them rather than through a Fatah-affiliated government. No longer restrained by the need to look nice to Western donors, Fatah would return to active terrorism, but IDF can quash it.