Abbas associates elected for senior Fatah positions

Unsurprisingly, PA chairman's close associates elected as heads of the ruling bodies of his Fatah party.

Elad Benari,

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas's close associates were elected on Sunday as the heads of the ruling bodies of his Fatah party, AFP reports.

The vote for both the party's central committee and its parliament, known as the revolutionary council, came after Abbas opponents were excluded from the election.

Beginning last Tuesday, some 1,400 delegates met in Ramallah for Fatah's first congress since 2009 and to vote in the elections.

At the congress's opening, Abbas was re-elected by consensus head of the party.

Abbas has headed Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PA since the death of former PA leader Yasser Arafat in 2004. He was elected to a four-year term in 2005, but remains in office as elections have not been held since.

A number of those seen as opposing him were not invited to the gathering, and one of his main rivals, Mohammed Dahlan, was replaced on the central committee.

Dahlan was ousted from Fatah in 2011 and currently lives in the United Arab Emirates.

Abbas accuses Dahlan of, among other things, collaborating with Israel to assassinate a senior Hamas terrorist in 2002. Dahlan has denied the accusations and has repeatedly verbally attacked Abbas from his new whereabouts in Dubai.

Abbas’s latest accusation against Dahlan surfaced on Sunday, when reports said he was being blamed by the PA of poisoning Arafat to death.

Observers saw the reduced number of delegates eligible to vote for the Fatah ruling bodies -- down from more than 2,000 in 2009 -- as part of a move by Abbas to exclude Dahlan supporters.

The central committee includes 18 members, plus four who are appointed, and the parliament will have 80 elected members and around 40 who are appointed.

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, won the most votes for the central committee -- more than 900.

Other key figures standing included Jibril Rajoub, a former head of intelligence who now leads the Palestinian Football Association and is responsible for efforts to have Israel sanctioned by FIFA. He secured the second-highest number of central committee votes at more than 800.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO and a close Abbas ally, was also re-elected to the committee.

Arafat's nephew Nasser al-Kidwa, also mentioned as a possible successor to Abbas, was re-elected to the central committee as well.

A number of analysts saw the past week's congress as a success for Abbas since he was able to sideline rivals.

He "proved that he still controls both Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in financial and organizational terms and that he can use them to fulfil his vision", Wajih Abu Zarifa, a Gazan political science professor, told AFP.

The congress was also 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.

Addressing the congress last week, Abbas launched a tirade against Israel, reiterating that Palestinian Arabs will continue to refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and that the PA would continue its efforts to approve a Security Council resolution against “Israeli settlements”.




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