Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told Fatah delegates that the movement seeks peace with Israel, but resistance remains an option.
The comments came as Abbas launched a congress in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Some 2000 activists are present for the 3 day event, the first of its kind for 20 years. ‘‘Although peace is our choice, we reserve the right to resistance, legitimate under international law,’‘ Abbas said. The convention is being seen as a chance to reform and re-energise Fatah which has been tainted by accusations of corruption. ‘‘Now is a new start. Are we able to do it? It’s a question to every Fatah member in this congress,’‘ Abbas declared. Tight security surrounds the event. However, some 400 delegates from Gaza will not be attending. They have been prevented from travelling from the coastal territory by Hamas. The Islamist group is angry that Abbas has refused to discuss the release of its prisoners held in the West Bank. ‘‘He does not live up to the standard of a president. He displayed an ill will that emanates from a narrow fractional vision and it reinstates his illegitimacy to represent the Palestinian people,” said Hamas leader Ayman Taha.” Once politically dominant, divisions with Hamas and within Fatah itself have weakened the movement.