The mainline Palestinian party elected a new guard in its first leadership vote in 20 years, revamping a council whose youngest member was 70.
Bethlehem, West Bank
As the Fatah party convention wrapped up Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas emerged stronger, signaling a comeback for the US-backed peace proponent after his party was trounced by Hamas.
His success in shepherding the long-anticipated congress, which updated Fatah's political platform and ushered in a new guard of leaders in the first party elections since 1989, enabled him at last to come out from under the long shadow of Yasser Arafat – the late party founder and icon of Palestinian nationalism.
"Abbas is the main winner. He is leaving the conference much, much stronger than when he entered the conference. It is a historic achievement; he did the impossible," says Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian cabinet minister who is not a member of Fatah. "So far he has been a weak leader.... He seems to be coming out of the conference as a leader who is much less in need of using the memory of Yasser Arafat as a tool."
Despite being marred by fractious bickering, the Fatah conference has been hailed as key to jump-starting badly needed democratic reform in Palestinian government and politics. Palestinians have long complained of corruption in the party, and criticized the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority – under pressure from Israel to bolster its security forces as part of an eventual peace deal – for setting up a police state.
Rival Palestinian faction Hamas, the militant organization in charge of Gaza, lambasted Fatah on Monday for unjust detention and torture after Hamas activist Fadi Hamadne committed suicide in his West Bank cell.
Page 1 of 4