Text size

The official list published Saturday of winners in elections to the Revolutionary Council of the Palestinian Fatah movement included 67-year-old Dr. Uri Davis, a Jerusalem-born Jew.

He was the first Jew to become a member of the Revolutionary Council since it was established in 1958.

Davis, who in the 1980s abandoned his Israeli citizenship in protest over Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and later received Palestinian citizenship, was the only non-Arab to run for a seat in the Revolutionary Council, Fatah's legislative body.

When his name was announced as number 31 on the list of winners, members in the auditorium of the Bethlehem school where the conference held its meetings applauded long and loud.

Davis, who considers himself anti-Zionist and who after renouncing his Israeli citizenship joined Fatah because he says he saw it as a socialist movement, was among more than 600 Fatah activists who competed for 80 seats of the council.

Author of the books "Israel: An Apartheid State," published in 1987 and "Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within," published in 2004, Davis prefers to identify himself as a Palestinian Hebrew.

Speaking perfect Arabic, he teaches Jewish studies at the Palestinian al-Quds University in Abu Dis, located just outside an eight-meter high concrete wall Israel has built around occupied East Jerusalem to separate it from its West Bank environs.

Davis said in Bethlehem last week as he was campaigning for a seat in the Revolutionary Council that he wants to see more anti-Zionist Israelis and internationals take up leading posts in Fatah.

Fatah opened its sixth congress, the first in 20 years, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on August 4.

After a week of deliberations, over 2,000 delegates voted for 18 seats on the 23-seat Central Council, whose official results were announced on Wednesday, and for 81 seats of the 128-seat Revolutionary Council.

The results showed at least 70 new members entering the Revolutionary Council, with members from the Gaza Strip winning 20 seats and women winning 11.

The highest number of votes went to a woman who spent many years in Israeli jails for her role in the resistance. Christian members won four seats.

New members include a number of Fatah activists from the diaspora, including Samir Rifai, Fatah's secretary in Syria, and Khaled Abu Usba, who participated in a terror attack in the 1980s in which at least 30 Israelis were killed.

They also include Fadwa Barghouti, wife of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in Israel for his role in the second Intifada, and who has been elected to the Fatah Central Committee.

Addressing the winners, Abbas declared Fatah's sixth congress "a new launch for Fatah," saying: "We have great work ahead of us."

He urged the members to work toward "reviving Fatah, which today more than any previous time needs the efforts of its young members to lead the movement into the future."

Abbas said he will convene the PLO's parliament-in-exile, the Palestinian National Council, for an "extraordinary meeting" in the next few days in an effort to start work on reforming the Palestinian umbrella organization.