”Historic” Fatah congress opened in West Bank

Published August 4th, 2009 - 08:46 GMT

Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia on Tuesday opened Fatah’s three-day congress telling delegates, “In the name of the martyrs and in the name of Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state, we hereby declare the opening of the sixth congress of our movement, the Fatah movement.” Nearly 2,000 delegates arrived in Bethlehem for congress—its first in twenty years.


Israel has reportedly permitted several Palestinians from countries such as Lebanon and Syria, to enter the West Bank for the congress. The Associated Press reported, however, that Israel barred some Fatah representatives from attending, including two men accused of involvement in the attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told attendees that holding the congress in the Palestinian territories “is a significant and historic event.” “The Palestinian people really want their rights based on the international legitimacy. Our people believe in peace and in the negotiations to achieve this peace and establish our state beside the state of Israel,” Abbas said. He added that the PA will not sign peace accord with Israel as long as the latter jails over 11,000 Palestinians.


A draft of Fatah’s new platform reportedly proposes to quiet yet maintain its “armed struggle” against Israel. It calls instead for civil disobedience against Israel and the opening of “a strategic channel to Iran.” The draft also refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and not to speak with Israel until it freezes all construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.


The draft also reportedly endorsed the Saudi peace initiative, which attempts to normalize Israeli-Arab relations in exchange for Israel’s complete evacuation of land occupied in the 1967 war. This includes the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. It also calls for the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 armistice lines, if peace talk fail.

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