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Abdul-Rahim: Fatah conference 90 percent over

Aug. 9, 2009 8:52 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 10, 2009 9:01 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an – The sixth Fatah congress is 90 percent done, thanks to a combination of elderly wisdom and youthful enthusiasm, said member of the Fatah Central Committee At-Tayyib Abdul-Rahim on Saturday.

Speaking soon after Mahmoud Abbas was elected head of Fatah, Abdul-Rahim asserted that certain inalienable Palestinian rights would never be surrendered.

He listed a number of preconditions for any agreement with Israel. He said that Jerusalem is our eternal capital, the return of refugees is non-negotiable, water must be distributed according to international law, and that Palestinian security would not allow the presence of any Israeli soldier within the borders of our state.

"Fatah is still a liberation movement, and since we have not yet achieved our goals, we have popular resistance," he said. "We hope the international community will return our rights to us, but no matter what we will remain steadfast on our land."

"If peace efforts are thwarted, there will be no security, nor stability in the region," Abdul-Rahim added, before insisting, "We are still pro-peace. But there will be no ultimate resolution without freeing all Palestinian detainees from Israel's custody."

The Fatah official also asserted that there would be no negotiations with the Israelis unless its government stops settlement activity, enables the establishment of a Palestinian state, and adheres with all previously signed agreements without preconditions.

"We will continue to assess the situation from time to time and consult our institutions - the Revolutionary Council, the Central Committee, the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestine Liberation Organization," he added.

With regard to elections, Abdul-Rahim confirmed that the Central Committee would elect 18 members, explaining that some candidates had begun to withdraw, such as Fatah leader in Gaza Abu Mahir Hillis.

"The decision came as I believe the young generation of Fatah must practice its role in leading this movement and face difficulties and challenges at this very critical stage of the question of Palestine," Hillis explained in a separate interview on Saturday night.

Sunday's elections will be held in Bethlehem for West Bank delegates, while Gazan officials will vote by phone.

Nominations started on Thursday night and closed Saturday. After the deadline for objections and withdrawal passed, the number of candidates for the Central Committee reached 96, and 617 candidates for the Revolutionary Council, indications that the vote will be competitive.

The Central Committee is expected to appoint four more members in its first session after elections, while the Revolutionary Council will likely appoint 25 additional members in its first session.
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