Seeking renewal and rejuvenation, the leading Palestinian party Fatah has been voting for a new executive body.
Mahmoud Abbas wants younger activists in senior positions although, at 74, the Palestinian President himself is staying put, having won fresh endorsement at Fatah’s helm. Led by the late Yasser Arafat for 40 years, the movement wants to shed a reputation for corruption and cronyism. Voting follows a congress in which Fatah stressed its commitment to a negotiated peace with Israel but stopped short of renouncing any resort to violence. “Fatah told us that they seek to achieve peace by establishing a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, peacefully,” said Palestinian negotiator and Fatah offical Saeb Erekat. “And Fatah will not tolerate the continuation of settlement activities while negotiations go on.” Voting in the West Bank town of Bethlehem follows Fatah’s first such gathering in two decades. Its Islamist rivals Hamas, who run the Gaza Strip, barred Fatah members there from attending so they have been voting by telephone or e-mail.