Fatah to choose new leadership in August

After twenty years, Palestinian party will convene conference to elect new Central C'tee members.

Marwan Barghouti 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Marwan Barghouti 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Palestinians' Fatah party, which controls the West Bank, on Sunday said that the movement will hold its two-decade overdue conference to choose new leadership on August 4. Abbas Zaki, Fatah's representative in Lebanon, said at the conclusion of a three-day meeting held by PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the Jordanian capital, that the group had agreed on the date, which is also Yasser Arafat's birthday. The group has not, however, agreed on a location, which they say must await the reconciliation talks with Hamas. A meeting to decide on the venue has been set for July 10, participants said. It is not clear if Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO's political department, who lives in exile and objects to the 1993 peace deal with Israel, will attend. Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia confirmed that the conference will be held on August 4, with the aim of choosing a new leadership for the movement. More than 1,500 delegates would attend, including 40 percent from the West Bank, 30 percent from Gaza and 30 percent from the Palestinian diaspora. Delegates were chosen in district primaries in the West Bank and Gaza in recent years. Qureia indicated that the conference will likely be held in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. It was not clear whether Abbas would be challenged for Fatah leadership. The key race will be over membership in Fatah's 18-seat Central Committee. Among those expected to compete is Tanzim chief Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in an Israeli jail for orchestrating a string of terror attacks. The last conference was held in 1989 in Algeria.