The oldest and largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), its name is a reversed acronym for Harakat al-Tahrir al-Falistin (Movement for the Liberation of Palestine). It was founded in 1957 by a group of Palestinian students in Cairo and Kuwait that included Yasser Arafat, Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad), Farouk Kaddoumi, Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), and Khalid al-Hassan (Abu Said). Its first armed action against Israel took place on 1 January 1965, however it did not come into prominence until after the Six Day-War (1967). The movement's status was enhanced by the battle near the Jordanian village of Karameh on 21 March 1968, in which Fatah fighters supported by Jordanian army forces held off a 15,000-man unit of the Israel Defense Forces, inflicting substantial losses. Under Arafat's leadership, Fatah joined the PLO in 1968 and won control over its executive committee a year later. Its members were prominently placed in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian Legislative Council and in the institutions of the Palestinian Self-Government Authority established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the context of the Oslo Accords. Youthful, militant elements of Fatah, such as Fatah-Tanzim and the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, took a leading role in prompting political reform within the organization by openly demanding an end to Arafat's corrupt, inefficient, and antidemocratic governance; these groups, ostensibly operating independently of Arafat's direct control, were also among the leaders of the Al-Aksa intifada. Fatah lost control of the Palestinian Legislative Council to Hamas in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. Fatah (representing the PLO) and Hamas achieved a Saudi-brokered power-sharing agreement in February 2007, but Fatah lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in an armed confrontation in June 2007. While Mahmoud Abbas retained the presidency of the PA, his power, influence, and credibility, and that of Fatah and the PLO, were severely compromised.
   See also Haniya, Ismail 'Abd Al-Salaam Ahmad (ABU AL-'ABD).

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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