Bethlehem (AsiaNews / Agencies) – A minor revolution has taken place in the Fatah leadership, as for the first time Marwan Barghouti (pictured) a leading figure in the Palestinian armed resistance and currently imprisoned in Israel, joins the Central Committee. With him many new faces have also been voted into the leadership of Fatah to the exclusion of the "old guard". The results, still unofficial, point to first timers taking 15 of the 18 available seats.
The result of the Fatah Congress, the first in 20 years, exceeded expectations, which had pointed to the desire for a change in leadership, to tackle growing pressure from Hamas and corruption charges.
Barghouti, 50, already considered one of the candidates to succeed Arafat, perhaps the most prominent figure among the Palestinians of Fatah, is the head of the Tanzim, the militant wing of Fatah, and in that capacity has been condemned by the Israelis to five life sentences for attacks they define as terrorist. In the past, his release, as well as by Palestinians, was also sought by representatives of the Israeli Labour Party, who believe him to be the only person able to bring all the Palestinians to a peace agreement. This is spurred on by the fact that, unlike Hamas, Tanzim has never theorized the destruction of Israel.
In April, Barghouti wrote a letter to the Israelis, in which it called for a "total ceasefire" and was said to favour, "along with the vast majority of Palestinians, a peace that allows the coexistence of an Israeli state and a Palestinian state. And in the political program adopted last Saturday, Fatah affirmed "its adherence to the option of a just peace" with Israel, while reaffirming "the right of the Palestinian people to resistance against occupation, under the rules of international law."
"These elections - said Mohammad Dahlan, one of the newly elected, and former head of security for Fatah in Gaza - open a new future for the movement, a democratic era." Another "new face", Jibril Rajoub, former aide to Arafat, spoke of "a coup against a leadership that had monopolised the movement for a long time without even presenting a report about its work".