Fatah Picks Senior Party Officials, Leading Candidate Barghouti Jilted

Party officials say that while Barghouti's prominence cannot be disputed, he cannot be appointed to an operational role while he is in prison.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the seventh Fatah conference in Ramallah, November 30, 2016.
Majdi Mohammed, AP

Fatah's Central committee convened last week in Ramallah to determine the movement's most senior officials after its chairman, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Fatah is the largest faction of the PLO and the one which dominates the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The Fatah central committee is the movement’s supreme authority.

Veteran Fatah member Mahmoud al-Aloul was appointed as Abbas' deputy, and Jibril Rajoub was appointed as the central committee's secretary. Saeb Erekat, who is in charge with negotiations with Israel, is to remain in office, as is Mohammed al-Madani, the chairman of the Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society.  Madani is boycotted by the Israeli government and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who revoked his entry permit to Israel on claims of subversive political activity in Israel.

Despite recent calls to award a Fatah role for Marwan Barghouti, who is serving a life sentence in Israeli jail, he was not appointed to any position. Fatah officials said that while Barghouti's prominence cannot be disputed, he cannot be appointed to an operational role while he is in prison.

On the eve of the committee convention, Barghouti was considered to be a leading candidate for the role of deputy Fatah leader, alongside Rajoub and Erekat. Fatah prisoners in Israel had even published a statement last week calling on Abbas to appoint him to the position.