Ab­bas re-elected Fatah leader

Arab News - - FRONT PAGE -

RA­MAL­LAH: Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas’ Fatah re-elected him party head Tues­day as the move­ment opened its first congress since 2009 with talk mount­ing of who will even­tu­ally suc­ceed the 81-year-old.

Ab­bas was re-elected by con­sen­sus, party spokesman Mah­mud Abu Al-Hija said. Some 1,400 del­e­gates were at­tend­ing.

The elec­tion of mem­bers of Fatah’s Par­lia­ment and its cen­tral com­mit­tee over the five-day con­fer­ence will sig­nal the di­rec­tion the old­est Pales­tinian party will take.

While Ab­bas has said he has no in­ten­tion of step­ping aside any­time soon, talk of who will even­tu­ally suc­ceed him as Pales­tinian pres­i­dent has in­ten­si­fied. He has not pub­licly des­ig­nated a suc­ces­sor.

Some an­a­lysts see the congress as an at­tempt by Ab­bas to marginal­ize po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents, in­clud­ing long­time ri­val Mo­hammed Dahlan, cur­rently in ex­ile in the UAE.

Ob­servers have seen the re­duced the num­ber of of­fi­cials to vote — down from more than 2,000 in 2009 — as part of a move to ex­clude Dahlan sup­port­ers.

Dim­itri Dil­iani, elected to Fatah’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary coun­cil, or Par­lia­ment, in 2009, said he was not in­vited to the congress like dozens of oth­ers be­cause “we bring a dif­fer­ent voice.”

He said a press con­fer­ence set for a refugee camp near Ra­mal­lah on Tues­day with those re­cently dis­missed from the party had been called off af­ter threats “from the se­cu­rity ser­vices,” in­clud­ing death threats.

Jib­ril Ra­joub, a for­mer in­tel­li­gence chief, cur­rent head of the Pales­tinian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and Fatah cen­tral com­mit­tee mem­ber, ac­knowl­edged “op­po­nents and dis­si­dents” had not been in­vited, but said “the pri­or­ity is to hold the congress.”

Ra­joub also said the gath­er­ing will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to up­date the party’s struc­tures.

“The sys­tem from the 1960s no longer works in 2016,” he told AFP.

“We have to take into ac­count the cur­rent cir­cum­stances. The cur­rent sys­tem was cre­ated when we were in the di­as­pora and we are now on na­tional soil. It was put in place at a rev­o­lu­tion­ary stage. Now we have a state.”

Saeb Erekat, Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion sec­re­tary gen­eral and Fatah cen­tral com­mit­tee mem­ber, said the congress will al­low the party to “choose lead­ers for the next stage.”

Mean­while, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has urged Mus­lims to de­fend the Pales­tinian cause, strik­ing a tough stance on Is­rael de­spite im­proved ties be­tween the two na­tions.

The pres­i­dent of ma­jor­ity Mus­lim Tur­key said Tues­day “it is the com­mon duty of all Mus­lims to em­brace the Pales­tinian cause and pro­tect Jerusalem” and that safe­guard­ing the Al-Aqsa Mosque should not be left to chil­dren armed with noth­ing but stones.

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