Bethlehem – Ma’an – Jailed Fatah strongman Marwan Barghouthi will nominate himself for a seat on the Fatah Central Committee during the movement’s sixth congress next month, Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqe revealed Saturday.
“Out of respect to our leaders in Israeli custody as well as their supporters, Fatah will support Marwan Barghouthi’s nomination for the central committee,” Qaraqe said in a statement. Barghouthi will be officially nominated during the conference meetings in Bethlehem that begin on 4 August.
In his statement, Qaraqe said he expects Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails will be given priority during Fatah sixth conference, both in terms of their case as an urgent issue to be resolved, and their position as prominent politicians. He pointed out that Marwan Barghouthi and other Fatah-affiliated prisoners have pinned their hopes on the sixth conference as a forum to discuss party plans and policy for the coming years.
Israel jailed Barghouthi in 2002 for alleged ties to Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades. A popular figure identified with the movement’s grassroots, Barghouthi is often mentioned as a possible candidate for the Palestinian presidency.
Saturday’s announcement comes at a sensitive time for Fatah. As the movement prepares for its first general conference in over a decade, Fatah is also struggling to recover from a controversy that began two weeks ago when a dissident leader accused Mahmoud Abbas of plotting to assassinate his predecessor, Yasser Arafat.