After a two-year delay, Fatah movement’s seventh congress kicked off in Ramallah on 29 November, 2016, where the movement has re-elected President Mahmoud Abbas to a new five-year term. Abbas said that 60 delegations from 28 countries will be joining the conference . Party official Salim Zanoun asked the gathering Monday to elect Abbas “by consensus.” The hundreds of delegates stood up and applauded Abbas, who then hugged Zanoun, AP reported.
The five-day conference is expected to cement Abbas’ control of Fatah and lock out his chief rival, the exiled Mohamed Dahlan.
Meanwhile, The United Nations Special Coordinator- Nickolay Mladenov on 29 November, 2016 has given a speech on behalf of the UN Secretary-General on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Mladenov said it his honour to address the 7th Congress of Fatah – which is the soul of the Palestinian people, just as the Palestinian people are the soul of the Arab nation.
On the other hand, Israeli Energy minister Yuval Steinitz said Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas represents the top ideological threat to the Jewish state after Abbas vowed to withdraw recognition of Israel if it keeps refusing to reciprocate. Speaking at a Fatah party congress on Wednesday, Abbas noted that although Palestine recognized Israel, Israel is not poised to do the same, adding that Palestine’s commitment “is not free” and eventually comes down to Israel’s decision to recognize Palestine in return. If the latter is not happening, Palestine will mull withdrawing its recognition after all other options are exhausted, Abbas said. However, he stressed that “at the moment, we must lead a peaceful popular resistance and we want to keep our hand extended for peace.”
Abbas’ comments did not sit well with Steiniz, a long-time ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a member of his right-wing Likud party, who dubbed them “another sad joke” in an interview with Israel Radio. During his congress address that spanned for three hours, Abbas also reminded that Israel was not in effect recognized as Jewish nation-state by the UN. However, in September last year Abbas hinted that Palestine might walk out from the Accords while blaming Israel of occupying its territory.
Contrary to Steinitz’s claims of Abbas rejecting Israel’s right to exist, the Palestinian leader has been known as a staunch supporter of the two-state solution and repeatedly called on reviving stalled peace talks with third party assistance. In November, Palestinian officials welcomed the initiative by France to serve as a mediator and staged a conference in Paris.
Arafat, Abbas’s predecessor as the Palestine leader was a living symbol of armed resistance to Israel occupation before he died in 2004. Being the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in 1990 he agreed to enter into peace negotiations with Israel that resulted in signing of the Accords for which he was awarded a peace Nobel prize in 1994.