Fatah, offshoot party to discuss confronting Hamas

Officials from Fatah and an offshoot party will meet Saturday to negotiate uniting their two lists for parliament elections on Jan. 25, both sides said. The agreement to meet reflects concern by officials from Fatah and the new "Future" party that the Islamic Hamas party is gaining popularity in the Palestinian street, the officials said on condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to discuss the talks with the media. Hamas this week swept municipal elections in several West Bank communities, reflecting a growing sentiment among Palestinians that Fatah is run by corrupt leaders who are incapable of instilling order in the Palestinian streets. Fatah officials blamed their poor showing in the local elections on infighting after the young guard broke away from veteran party leaders earlier this week to form Future. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, sent an envoy to the Future leader, Marwan Barghouti, to request that the sides negotiate a joint list for the parliamentary elections, the Fatah officials said Saturday. Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail, agreed and officials from both sides were slated to meet later Saturday, Fatah and Future officials said. The younger generation of Fatah split from the party in anger over its decision to nullify primaries in several areas after gunmen disrupted polling. Many Fatah members want to bring new blood into the party to oust the autocratic leadership that has ruled the movement for decades. Palestinian parties have until the end of December to present their final lists to the electorate.