Fatah, offshoot party may reunite

Saturday talks to focus on forming joint list to boost chances against Hamas.

barghouti poster298 88ap (photo credit: AP)
barghouti poster298 88ap
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian officials from the ruling Fatah Party planned to negotiate with a breakaway group of young leaders Saturday to try to reunite the party and boost its chances of fighting off an electoral challenge from the popular Hamas group, according to party officials. The Fatah young-guard broke away from the party this week and formed the new "Future" movement after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas ignored their demands to reform the party and instead announced a slate of candidates filled with veteran Fatah leaders viewed as corrupt and incompetent by many Palestinians. The split in Fatah was expected to give a big electoral boost to the Islamic Hamas, which won sweeping victories during a round of municipal voting in several West Bank communities this week, taking control of the city of Nablus and the nearby town of Jenin in the final electoral test before the Jan. 25 parliamentary vote. As part of a campaign to reform Fatah, its younger leaders forced the party to hold primaries to help determine its slate for the parliamentary election. But Abbas generally ignored the primaries, which the young guard overwhelmingly won, and stacked the Fatah list with corruption-tainted old-timers leading to the party split. Abbas sent an envoy to Future's leader Marwan Barghouti to request that the sides negotiate a joint list for the elections, Fatah officials said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the sensitive negotiations. Barghouti, an uprising leader who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail, agreed and officials from both sides were scheduled to meet later Saturday, Fatah and Future officials said. Palestinian parties have until the end of December to present their final election lists.