Fatah chooses members for its ruling bodies

Abbas's Fatah party holds a vote for members of its ruling bodies that could give clues to a possible successor to Abbas.

Ben Ariel,

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party on Saturday held a vote for members of its ruling bodies that could give clues to a possible successor to Abbas.

Fatah is holding its first congress in seven years at a time when Abbas is seeking to quell dissent in the face of internal rivalries.

Earlier this week, the congress re-elected Abbas by consensus as head of the Fatah party.

The 81-year-old Abbas has not publicly designated a successor, and Saturday’s vote will be an indicator of the strengths and weaknesses of the various factions in Fatah, reports AFP.

Casting his ballot on Saturday afternoon, Abbas called the process "democratic and transparent".

According to a recent poll, two-thirds of Palestinian Arabs are dissatisfied with Abbas and want him to resign.

The 1,400 delegates voted at Abbas's Ramallah headquarters and also in Gaza. They are to choose 18 members of the party's Central Committee, its highest body. Abbas will appoint another four.

The congress will also elect 80 members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council -- the party's parliament. Another 40 council members are directly appointed.

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

There has been pressure by some Arab countries on Abbas to name Dahlan, who ousted from Fatah in 2011 and has since continuously verbally attacked Abbas, as his successor. Abbas vehemently objects to this.

Dahlan, for his part, has said he will not challenge Abbas for the leadership of Fatah but has also blasted him as unfit to lead and suggested he would support archterrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for his role in planning suicide terror attacks during the Second Intifada.

The Fatah congress was attended by representatives of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups, who were invited directly by Fatah, despite the fact that Abbas is called a "moderate" by most of the Western world, while Hamas and Islamic Jihad openly call for the destruction of the state of Israel.