Abbas re-elected Fatah leader
Movement's summit in Bethlehem enters unanimous vote in favor of Palestinian president, who was the only candidate. 'We are here to achieve the Palestinian people's goals, to liberate Palestinian land and to form our state with Jerusalem as its capital,' he says in victory speech. Hamas spokesman says vote 'won't change situation, Fatah in state of collapse'
The Fatah congress, which has convened in West Bank city of Bethlehem, elected Abbas – who was the only candidate bidding for office – unanimously.
Taking the podium to the thousands of Fatah delegates' roaring applause, Abbas said that the movement "has continued to forge on, despite all the attempts to crush it.
"Time and time again we have recovered from failures and squabbles and this congress symbolizes the great energy that this movement, which fired the first shot in the Palestinian struggle, has.
"We are here out of the desire to achieve the Palestinian people's goals," he continued. "We are here to liberate the Palestinian land and to form our state with Jerusalem as its capital."
Fatah, he concluded, is "strives to see all 11,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, free."
At the end of his speech, the Palestinian president addressed Farouk Kaddoumi, the PLO's second in command, who recently accused him of collaborating with Israel to assassinate former leader Yasser Arafat. "We are all human, we all make mistakes, and we all forgive," Abbas said.
Abbas did not go into details about diplomatic talks, but at the start of the congress last week, he spoke of the understandings he reached with Israel with an American guarantee.
He said this included all of east Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and all parts of the Dead Sea located in the West Bank. "But now the Israelis are trying to deny this and create a reality in Jerusalem, claiming that Jerusalem is united under their sovereignty," he said last week.
"Although we have chosen peace, we maintain the right to launch an armed resistance, which is legitimate as far as international law is concerned."
Hamas: Fatah in state of collapse
In resopnse to the vote, Hamas spokesman Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas' re-election is "a continuation of the state of political and organizational collapse Fatah is in and a continuation of the policy of dependence on foreign and external sources that Fatah suffers from."
Abu Zuhri said Fatah's re-election of Abbas would not make the party's situation any better: "Abu Mazen's (Abbas) election is an internal Fatah matter, but we believe the party's situation will not change after this election."
Fatah sources said the unanimous re-election of Abbas to lead the party was a clear message both to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas.
The congress is expected to resume its deliberations ahead of Sunday's elections to the movement's committees. The vote is expected to see 18 members elected to serve on the Fatah Central Committee, and 80 to its Revolutionary Committee.