Fatah sets date for top leadership elections

By
November 3, 2016 05:15

Elections were postponed numerous times since due to Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and internal dysfunction.

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Fatah

Protesters wave Fatah and Palestinian flags during a demonstration in Nablus in August 2016.. (photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)

Fatah’s top leadership body decided on Wednesday that the long-awaited seventh Fatah General Congress will take place at the end of November.

“The Fatah Central Committee unanimously decided to hold the seventh Fatah Congress on the 29th of the current month in Ramallah,” read a statement in Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news site.

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Fatah originally planned to hold its General Congress in 2014, but postponed it numerous times, because of Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and internal dysfunction.

Abbas Zaki, a Fatah Central Committee member, told The Jerusalem Post in a phone conversation that the purpose of the congress is to renew the Fatah leadership.

“Like any other movement, we are holding a congress to renew our leadership; this is a democratic right,” said Zaki, who also serves as Fatah’s general commissioner for Arab-China relations.

Some 1,300 delegates to the congress will elect Fatah’s two top leadership bodies, the Central Committee and Revolutionary Council.

Zaki added that the congress will also set forth a strategy for Fatah.

“We need to hold this congress to evaluate the past years and establish a new vision for the future, in light of growing Israeli extremism, regional problems and increasing sympathy for our issue on the Arab and international levels,” remarked Zaki.

However, many analysts see the congress as an opportunity for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to consolidate his authority, isolating competitors in the Fatah leadership.

Grant Rumley, a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the Post that he expects “Abbas will try to use the conference to reward allies and purge rivals in senior positions in the Central Committee and Revolutionary Council.

“Specifically, I think he’ll target allies of [Muhammad] Dahlan and other potential threats, like Marwan Barghouti.”

Dahlan is an exiled Fatah leader currently based in the United Arab Emirates, and Barghouti is a popular Fatah leader serving five life sentences in Israeli prison.

The rivalry between Abbas and Dahlan reached new heights in recent weeks, with Abbas rebuffing Arab pressure to reconcile with Dahlan and ousting members from Fatah allegedly allied with him, such as Fatah parliamentarian Jihad Tammaleh.

The last Fatah General Congress took place in 2009 in Bethlehem, with more than 2,000 delegates in attendance.


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