Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks with journalists at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas officially opened the seventh Fatah General Congress on Tuesday morning in the PA presidency headquarters in Ramallah.
The congress brought together some 1,322 Fatah delegates from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian diaspora to elect the movement’s top two leadership bodies, the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council, and set a strategy for the next five years.
“You today, in these historic times, are living the writing of modern history,” Abbas said as he opened the congress, praising Fatah’s founders and the “martyrs who died along the path toward freedom and independence.”
The opening meeting of the congress unanimously reelected Abbas as general leader of Fatah.
Fatah convened its sixth Congress in 2009, 20 years after holding its fifth Congress. This year’s congress was originally supposed to take place in 2014, but Operation Protective Edge and internal Fatah tensions delayed it slightly over two years.
The congress is expected to last five days and possibly longer, and will largely be closed to the press. The sixth congress in Bethlehem lasted 12 days.
Fatah leaders attending the event maintain the congress will “organize the internal Fatah house,” uniting the movement.
“The hope is to revive the movement and address all the major questions relating to uniting the Palestinian people, women, Jerusalem and many others,” Mahmoud Abu Haija, the official spokesman of the congress, told reporters.
However, Fatah leaders critical of Abbas’s leadership who have not been invited to the congress, hold that the conference is a “disaster.”
Jihad Tummaleh, ousted from Fatah in late October by Abbas for his alleged connections to self-exiled Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan, said he and other Fatah leaders critical of Abbas will not respect the results of the conference.
“We won’t recognize the decisions,” Tummaleh said.
“This is an exclusionary conference. The results of the conference are not legitimate, including the election of the Central Committee.”
There are reports that a separate meeting of Fatah dissidents will take place in a West Bank refugee camp.
Reuters contributed to this report.