Fatah and Hamas are the two main political parties within the Palestinian Authority:

Fatah:

— was founded and formerly headed by Yasser Arafat.

— joined the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1968 and won the leadership role in 1969.

— offered training to terrorist and insurgent groups in the 1960s and the 1970s.

— carried out numerous acts of international terrorism in the 1970s.

— is estimated to have 6,000 to 8,000 supporters.

— has political and financial ties to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other moderate Persian Gulf states.

— received weapons and training from the former USSR and the former Communist regimes of East European states.

Hamas:

— won the Palestinian Authority's general legislative elections in January 2006, defeating Fatah, the party of the PA’s president, Mahmoud Abbas.

— is believed to have killed more than 500 people in more than 350 separate terrorist attacks since 1993.

— has a military wing believed to have more than 1,000 active members and thousands of supporters and sympathizers.

— is strongest in the Gaza Strip and in a few areas of the West Bank.

— is dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic Palestinian State that encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

— does not recognize the right of Israel to exist

— is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, and Israel.

Sources: Global Security, Council on Foreign Relations