Abbas says will follow in Arafat footsteps as several Fatah members vow to challenge nomination
Interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told parliament on Tuesday that he would follow in Yasser Arafat's footsteps and demand that Israel recognize the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees.
Abbas, 69, spoke a day after a panel of the ruling Fatah movement chose him as its candidate in January 9 elections for Palestinian Authority president, despite demands by Fatah's young guard that a primary be held.
The speech marked the first time since Arafat's death on November 11 that Abbas outlined his viewpoints on the conflict with Israel.
Abbas seemed to be sending a message to Fatah's young guard that he would stand tough in future talks with Israel, despite his opposition to against Israel.
During a memorial ceremony for Arafat at the Palestinian parliament, Abbas said he would walk in the footsteps of the late Palestinian leader. "We promise you (Arafat) that our heart will not rest until we achieve the right of return for our people and end the tragic refugee issue," he said.
In the meantime, Fatah members, said Tuesday they would challenge the nomination of Abbas as the presidential candidate.
Some of the members of the young guard are pushing for Marwan Barghouti, an uprising leader jailed by Israel, as the movement's candidate, arguing that the popular Barghouti has a better chance to win. (Albawaba.com)