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Official: Party conference in 2013 to reboot Fatah

Nov. 25, 2012 9:56 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 29, 2012 7:39 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party will hold a general conference in the first half of 2013 in order to revitalize the movement, a senior official said Sunday.

Fatah is reeling from Israel's eight-day war on Gaza, which was seen locally as victory for Hamas and other factions using armed resistance in Gaza.

On Thursday, Abbas will submit his bid for UN recognition of Palestine as a non-member state at the General Assembly, the signature move in his non-violent campaign for statehood.

Fatah central committee member Abbas Zaki said that after the bid, it was time for Fatah to evaluate its situation and invigorate its political program.

Many Palestinians criticize the leadership for staying engaged in diplomacy for two decades with little to show for it.

Echoing these concerns, Zaki said the party is not like it was, as it got stuck in peace talks with Israel, but can be as strong as it once was.

He vowed that no threats would deter Abbas to call off the UN bid. He said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had convinced Israeli authorities not to punish Abbas for the measure.

Israeli officials have threatened various punitive actions, including withdrawing Palestinian tax revenues, supporting more settlement building, and canceling past agreements.

Zaki said the planned exhumation of late Fatah leader and president Yasser Arafat on Tuesday will be painful for the movement, because Arafat had asked only to open his grave in order to be buried in Jerusalem, which is annexed by Israel.

Nevertheless, Zaki noted that the French murder inquiry was a chance to uncover the circumstances of Arafat's death.

It is widely believed in Palestine that Israel was involved in his sudden illness in 2004, and no autopsy was ever conducted. "Israel will not escape responsibility for the assassination of Arafat," Zaki said.

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