AxisMundi Jerusalem

Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories

    Related Topics:

  • Iran

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss?

August 11, 2009

Will Fatah supporters get fooled again?

PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/FATAHAs election results for the Central Committee trickle in, general opinion has swayed back and forth as to their probable significance.

With at least half of the names announced this morning considered “fresh faces,” the mood today started out upbeat. Our correspondent, Ali Sawafta, noted that about three political generations were represented in the new Committee, offering a wider spectrum of viewpoints reformists say are neccessary to revive the movement.

Some signs considered positive were the election of the Israeli imprisoned Marwan Barghouti (read more here), who is a popular leader seen as a potential future president.  There were several big names to make the list of elected members to the Central Committee, such as Mohammed Dahlan and Sa’ab Erekat. Read their short profiles here.

“This is an unexpected result. It’s a big change, a huge change,” said Naser al-Kidwa, in our latest article. Kidwa, a nephew of Yasser Arafat, just won a Central Committee seat.

But enthusiasm waned as the afternoon wore on and conference delegates announced that election results were not final. Four candidates were elected with only one vote difference between them, making the results highly contested. There have now been two recounts, leading many to suspect there is some dirty play at hand.  Some voiced concern that old Council members who lost their seats might try to regain a spot under the cover of the recount process.

But even before counting began yesterday, Fatah reformist member Hussam Khader complained about election procedures. “It is not just that the procedures were dubious, it’s the mentality. There is no culture of democracy,” he said. Khodar made headlines early on in the conference when he challenged Mahmoud Abbas for not having compiled any reports of spending and political procedures in the movement since its last conference, held 20 years ago in Tunis. PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/FATAH

Meanwhile Bethlehem residents are getting impatient to reclaim their city from this marathon congress, with neccessities like electricity, water–and beer–said to be running short due to excess demand. “They’re like a plague of locusts” complained one resident. His companion gave it a positive spin, saying: “At least they’re not like the Christian tourists. They like Arabic food.”

Vote counting for the Central Committee as well as the larger Revolutionary Council should be done by late tomorrow, but after so many delays, it’s hard to say for sure. And the longer it takes, the more people start to doubt that initial signs of change are more than a mirage.

“If this is only about new people getting the office and the car, then nothing changes,” said Khader.

(For more background information, check this Q&A on the Fatah conference, or search our website.)

PHOTOS: Top left, A Palestinian woman stands in front of posters depicting President Mahmoud Abbas during a rally supporting the Fatah movement in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus, August 9, 2009. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini.  Bottom Right, Employees of the Fatah election committee count ballots during the Fatah congress in the West Bank town of Bethlehem August 10, 2009. REUTERS/Nayef Hashmaloun


Omitted from Erika Solomon’s anodyne report of the Fatah conference is any mention of truly significant and malevolent developments like the official endorsement of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as Fatah’s armed wing.

As Tom Gross reports,

Among the dozens of deadly terror attacks carried out in recent years by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians, including many children, are the Yeshivat Beit Yisrael massacre (which killed 10 Israelis), the King George Street bombing in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem supermarket bombing in Kiryat Yovel, the Allenby Street coffee shop bombing in Tel Aviv, the Ben Yehuda Market bombing in Jerusalem, the Petah Tikva shopping mall massacre, the French Hill Junction massacre, the Tel Aviv central bus station massacre (in which several African and Filipino migrants were among the 23 killed), the Kfar Sava train station bombing, the Mike’s Place suicide bombing in Tel Aviv (carried out jointly with British terrorists of Pakistani origin), the Rehavia Jerusalem bus massacre, the Liberty Bell Garden bombing, the Ashdod Port massacre, the Tel Aviv sea promenade bombing, the Beersheba Central Bus Station bombing, the Kdumim bombing, the Tel Aviv Old Central Bus Station bombing, the Eilat bakery bombing, and last year’s Dimona suicide bombing.

But not to worry, Erika assures us that, “three political generations were represented in the new Committee, offering a wider spectrum of viewpoints reformists say are neccessary [sic] to revive the movement”. Like perhaps, this viewpoint:

Kifah Radaydeh, said the PA would resume violence against Israel when Fatah is “capable,” and “according to what seems right… It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; the goal is Palestine.”

Posted by HIS | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see