In Bethlehem, some 2,000 Fatah members are taking part in the first Fatah conference in 20 years. The very first sentence of the opening speech honored the “shahids” who killed themselves fighting Jews.
“In the name of the shahids and in the name of Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state, we declare the opening of the sixth convention of our movement, Fatah.” With these words, convention chairman Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) – a former Palestinian Authority prime minister and speaker of the PA legislature – introduced the politically-charged gathering.
Shahids literally means “martyrs,” and the reference is to those who killed themselves or were killed in their war of terrorism against Israel.
Photos of fighters against Israel, including a young boy holding a rifle, dot the walls of the Bethlehem hotel hosting the convention. The official Fatah symbol includes a map of all of Israel - not just Judea and Samaria - on the backdrop of a rifle and sword - thus making Fatah indistinguishable from Hamas in their ultimate goals to replace all of Israel.
The convention has been called in order to formulate the Fatah ideological platform and determine the leadership of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority for the coming years. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is seeking to retain power for himself and the “old guard,” in the face of a challenge from convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti and the younger generation.
Barghouti Seeking to Head PA
Barghouti is serving five life sentences in Israel for authorizing and organizing the murder of five Israelis in three separate attacks; he was acquitted “for lack of evidence” of murdering nine others and taking part in 33 other attacks.
Barghouti once summed up his approach to Israel and peace in the Middle East by saying, "After we attain a Palestinian state [in Judea and Samaria], there will be greater things for which to strive... There is no room for more than one state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean."
The PA’s Al-Quds newspaper published this week the contents of the message that Barghouti sent to the current Fatah conference. Barghouti outlined his view of the agreement he foresees with Israel: “We are still in the national liberation stage… The main, primary and holiest mission of the Palestinian nation [sic] in the homeland and in the diaspora is the continued national struggle to bring about the end of the Israeli occupation and the settlements, and [Israel’s] full retreat to the June 4, ’67 borders, including from occupied eastern Jerusalem, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty, with its capital in eastern Jerusalem, the ‘right of return’ [of the millions of descendants of Arabs who left Israel in 1948] and the fulfillment of their rights in accordance with UN Resolution 194, and the release of all prisoners and detainees.”
The terrorist leader further said that the “Palestinian resistance” – Arab-speak for “terrorism” – will end only after Israel’s “occupation” ends and when the national rights of the “Palestinian nation” are realized.
Barghouti said that negotiations must be resumed with Israel only if Israel first stops all settlement activity and agrees to release all PA prisoners within one year. Ironically, Hamas said it would not allow Gazans to travel to the conference until Fatah frees the 1,000 Hamas prisoners it holds in its prisons.
Abbas Against Hamas, Israel
Abu Mazen, for his part, spoke out strongly against his other rival, Hamas, calling them “princes of darkness who divide the homeland and the nation and harm democracy by preventing Fatah members from Gaza to take part in this convention.”
He said that Fatah has long been at the forefront of the PLO – “the same PLO that Hamas tried to conceal, as others have tried to do. But the PLO will continue to exist until our state is established.”
Abu Mazen also attacked Israel for trying to create new facts on the ground in eastern Jerusalem and claim the united city under Israeli sovereignty, even though "understandings reached with the Americans guarantee us Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, and more."
The convention is expected to include a clause in its platform negating the recognition of Israel as the Jewish State, and calling for “struggle using all means.” MK Avi Dichter, a former Public Security Minister, commented to Israeli media that this means that yet another intifada cannot be ruled out.