The party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has elected a new and younger Central Committee in an attempt to rejuvenate the Fatah movement weakend by a bloody fued with Hamas. Chief among those is charismatic grassroots leader Marwan Barghouti currently serving five life sentences in Israel for organising attacks against the Jewish state.
Fatah, led by Yasser Arafat for 40 years, wants to shed its reputation for corruption and cronyism that brought on its 2006 election defeat at the hands of Islamist rival Hamas. Also new to the 23 seat cabinet are Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajub. Dahlan, the former Fatah leader in Gaza, has long campaigned on a reform ticket and is despised by Hamas. Jibril Rajub already heads the Palestinian Olympic Committee and said the new cabinet amounted to a “revolution” ahead of elections due in the new year. Fatah is made up of the powerful Central Committee and a 120-seat Revolutionary Council. The congress, the first in 20-years, elected Abbas unopposed as Fatah leader, a post he has held since Arafat died in 2004. The 2,300 delegates backed the idea of a two-state solution to the conflict through peaceful means but said they reserved the right to resort to an armed struggle should peace talks collapse.