Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas officially opened the 7th Fatah General Congress on Tuesday morning in the PA presidency headquarters in Ramallah.
The convening has brought together some 1,322 Fatah delegates from Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian diaspora to elect the movement’s top two leadership bodies, the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council, and set a strategy for the next five years.
“You today, in these historic times, are living the writing of modern history,” Abbas said as he opened the congress, praising Fatah’s founders and the “martyrs who died along the path towards freedom and independence.”
The opening meeting of the congress unanimously reelected Abbas as general leader of Fatah.
Fatah convened its 6th Congress in 2009, 20 years after holding its 5th Congress. This year’s congress was originally supposed to take place in 2014, but the Gaza war and internal Fatah tensions delayed it slightly over two years.
The congress is expected to last five days and possibly longer and will largely be closed to the press. The 6th Congress in Bethlehem lasted 12 days.
Fatah leaders attending the congress argue that the congress will “organize the internal Fatah house,” uniting the movement.
Fatah leaders critical of Abbas’s leadership who have not been invited to the congress, hold that the conference is “disaster.”
Jihad Tummaleh, a Fatah leader Abbas ousted from the party in late October for his connections to self-exiled Fatah leader Muhammed Dahlan, said that he and other Fatah leaders critical of Abbas will not recognize the results of the conference.
“We won’t recognize the decisions. This is an exclusionary conference. The results of the conference are not legitimate, including the election of the central committee,” Tummaleh said.
There are reports that a separate meeting of Fatah dissidents will take place in Judea and Samaria.