Will Abbas do it?
Palestinian national dialogue hangs by a thread as leaders in Ramallah suggest that unilaterally they will form a new Palestinian government outside its framework, writes Saleh Al-Naami
Despite numerous undertakings by Fatah leaders to hold "sooner rather than later" the movement's long-overdue Sixth Congress, sharp differences and disagreements among Fatah's competing camps continue to impede the convening of the conference.
Last month, Hakam Balawi, secretary- general of Fatah's Executive Committee, was quoted by the pro-establishment Maan News Agency as saying: "An announcement as to the date and venue of the Sixth Conference will be announced within a few hours." Since then, several weeks have passed and it is still uncertain when and where the movement's convention will take place.
The Fatah leadership has been trying to find an alternative venue for the conference. Ramallah,
Moreover, it is unlikely that the Israeli occupation authorities would allow hundreds of Fatah leaders from the Diaspora and also from the Gaza Strip to travel to the
Regardless, disagreements over the date and venue of the Sixth Congress are only a small part of the internal troubles Fatah is undergoing. Last week, the Preparatory Committee meeting in
This contentious issue has proved a real problem as every camp is trying to nominate, often using undemocratic tactics, as many of its supporters as possible for conference membership. According to eyewitnesses, the
Qadoumi, too, objected, saying that, "Fatah shouldn't allow Israeli spies and collaborators to decide the outcome of the Sixth Congress." He was referring to hundreds of names submitted, at least in part, by former PA strongman Mohamed Dahlan, an ally of Abbas and widely regarded as pro-Western in orientation.
Fatah, a huge movement with tens of thousands of members, has been facing a crisis in determining who is eligible to take part in the conference. Many of the movement's nominal members have no real "revolutionary credentials" and are considered "sycophants, hangers-on and opportunists". This is in contrast to numerous other veteran Fatah activists who have spent their lives serving the movement and who are now sidelined because they don't have the "right connections" with the "centres of influence".
In term of size, Fatah is larger than Hamas. However, unlike Hamas, Fatah is far from being monolithic and homogenous, both ideologically and politically. This is why the various and competing camps within the movement are trying to get as many of their supporters as possible represented in the conference that will elect a new leadership for the movement, including a new Executive Committee and a new Revolutionary Council.
Last Monday, 28 April, as inter-camp discord reached the point of altercation, Qadoumi, a strong opponent of the Oslo Accords, castigated Ahmed Qurei and Mohamed Ghuneim, the first for his "unholy alliance with Dahlan and Abbas", apparently clear from his tacit endorsement of their membership list. Qadoumi shouted at Qurei: "Would you like to pat the heads and backs of these spies?"
Qadoumi also lambasted Qurei for supporting open-ended negotiations with
Qadoumi also attacked Ghuneim for "flirting with Abbas and Dahlan" by endorsing "the nomination of treacherous elements to the conference while rejecting honourable people who sacrificed much for the sake of
Earlier, Qadoumi lashed out at Fatah leaders in the
It is uncertain whether Fatah will be able to devise a mechanism with which every camp and every leader could be equally satisfied. What is certain is that holding the movement's Sixth Congress under the current circumstances would further exacerbate the movement's internal contradictions. The continuing rift with Hamas, the brazen extremism of the new Israeli government, and the disenchantment displayed by many ordinary Palestinians with the Fatah leadership are additional factors militating against the movement's internal harmony and unity.
The most important factor eroding Fatah's credibility in the eyes of many Palestinians remains the persistence of the Israeli occupation. It appears that in order to secure its survival Fatah has no choice but to collaborate and coordinate with
The link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/946/re2.htm