Fatah young guard renews old struggle against leaders

Many frustrated with Abbas's failure to set a date for holding Fatah's sixth "general conference."

abbas hands up 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
abbas hands up 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The power struggle between the old and young guard in Fatah appears to be raging again following allegations that the veteran leaders are blocking attempts to reform the faction. Frustrated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's failure to set a date for holding Fatah's sixth "general conference," some representatives of the young guard have called for replacing Abbas and his old-time colleagues. The conference, which last met in 1989, is supposed to pave the way for internal elections in Fatah - a move that is most likely to result in the rise of young leaders and fresh faces. The veteran Fatah leadership came under fire during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip from several Fatah operatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They accused Abbas and his colleagues of secretly colluding with Israel to overthrow the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. Among the disgruntled young guard representatives are Hatem Abdel Kader, Marwan Barghouti and Hussam Khader. The three have long been spearheading a campaign aimed at forcing Abbas and other veteran Fatah leaders to step aside to pave the way for the emergence of a new leadership. Khader, who was released from Israeli prison last year, called on members of Fatah's two key decision-making bodies - the Revolutionary Council and the Central Committee - to resign. His call came in an interview published over the weekend in the London-based pan Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. Khader hinted that Abbas and his colleagues were collaborating with Israel. "The occupation has never harmed them or threatened them or their interests," he said. "The occupation has given them many privileges." He added that Abbas and the Fatah leaders were scared of holding a democratic vote because of their fear of losing their posts. "The Fatah leadership has squandered all the achievements of our faction and trampled our history with its shoes," he said. "All the Fatah leaders are responsible for the destruction of Fatah." Barghouti, in a recent letter to members of the Fatah Central Committee, urged them to work harder toward convening the sixth conference. He expressed deep concern over Fatah's failure to reform itself and draw conclusions from its defeat at the hands of Hamas in the January 2006 legislative election.