Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas' Fatah party elected a new generation of leaders at its first congress in 20 years, including a popular militant jailed in Israel, according to results on Tuesday.
Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in Israel, was among those elected to Fatah's governing body at the landmark conference aimed at rejuvenating a party weakened by internal rifts.
Fatah members hope the injection of fresh blood will help revive the main Palestinian secular party, which was founded by Yasser Arafat half a century ago to pursue aspirations of independence but which has lost much of its clout in recent years.
"Today the Fatah emerges from this congress united and strengthened," said former Palestinian internal security chief Jibril Rajoub.
Israelis however have protested at Fatah's adoption of a charter that commits the driving force in the Palestinian Authority to peace but also reserves the right to "resistance."
Addressing relations with Hamas
Rajoub, 56, already head of the Palestinian football federation and the Palestinian Olympic committee, was elected along to the 21-strong Central Committee along with Fatah's former strongman in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan.
Barghouti, 50, who was found guilty in 2004 for his role in deadly attacks against Israelis during the second intifada or uprising, is Fatah's secretary general for the West Bank but never was a member of the Central Committee.
Top Palestinian negotiator and former Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia was among the party veterans who lost his seat on the committee as the congress returned only three incumbents.
Rajoub said the decision to pick a new generation of leaders amounted to a "revolution" ahead of legislative elections that should be held early next year.
"We have many tasks ahead, the main one is to address relations with Hamas," added Dahlan, who is considered the nemesis of the rival Islamist faction.
About 2,000 delegates at the Fatah congress in the West Bank city of Bethlehem -- the first ever on Palestinian soil -- also elected a raft of new leaders to the 120-strong Revolutionary Council.