JERUSALEM – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party never officially recognized Israel’s right to exist, boasted a top Fatah official.

“Not only did we not recognize Israel, we will not recognize Israel,” said Rafiq al-Nache, a member of Fatah’s central committee and head of the party’s internal court.

“We know that we should be committed to international agreements, therefore it is demanded that we recognize Israel. But we as Fatah didn’t (recognize) and we will not ask anyone else to recognize Israel,” said al-Nache, speaking to Palestinian reporters yesterday.

Al-Nache added his Fatah party is expected to affirm its right to “resistance” against Israel at an upcoming Fatah congress scheduled for next month.

Fatah is considered moderate by Israeli and U.S. policy. However, contrary to popular perception, Fatah has never officially recognized Israel as a Jewish state or even as a country with the right to exist.

In 1994, the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, signed what was known as the “recognition principals” in which it formally agreed to recognize Israel. Fatah is the largest faction of the PLO, and as such, is thought to be party to the recognition agreement.

Fatah as a party, however, never officially declared it recognized the Jewish state. The last time the Fatah party held its official congress – in which it amended its charter – was in 1989. At that time, Fatah declared jihad on Israel and called for the Jewish state’s destruction.

PLO leader Yasser Arafat later made a statement to the French media in which he claimed the portion of Fatah’s charter calling for the destruction of Israel was null and void, but the terms were never officially nullified. According to Fatah bylaws, the group’s charter can only be changed by vote during an official Fatah congress session.

The next congress is slated to be held in Bethlehem next month. At the meeting, hundreds of voting Fatah members will discuss the future of their party and pass official resolutions outlining Fatah’s major objectives.

Israel had hoped under Abbas and amid intense negotiations that the Sixth Congress would moderate the party’s objectives.

But senior Fatah sources speaking to WND said a list of resolutions to be voted upon includes text affirming as one of Fatah’s main objectives the “resistance” and “armed struggle” against the Jewish state.

The sources said Abbas and other senior Fatah officials opposed the inclusion of “resistance” in any resolution to be called for a vote but said the majority of Fatah members insisted it be incorporated.

The sources said it was “very likely” the “resistance” clause could be accepted during the congressional meeting by the majority of general Fatah voters, who tend to publicly express more radical views than Abbas.

Earlier this month, Qadura Fares, a PA minister and member of parliament, confirmed in a WND exclusive interview his Fatah party will vote on whether to officially incorporate “resistance” against Israel in its official charter.

“We have to decide about resistance. I think the Palestinian people, just as anyone in the world, have a right to resistance to defend our freedom. We won’t [give up] the resistance and embark on a strategy of only negotiations with the Israelis,” Fares said.

Abbas secured special permission from Israel to allow Fatah members to travel to Bethlehem to attend the conference from other West Bank towns and the Gaza Strip as well as from Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

According to a list obtained by WND, the Fatah delegates slated to attend the Bethlehem event include such notable jihad supporters as:

  • Kamal Ranam, the chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group in Ramallah. Ranam is accused of personally carrying out recent shootings, attacks against Israeli forces operating in the Ramallah and a shooting attack in northern Samaria in December 2000 that killed the leader of the ultra-nationalist Kahane Chai organization, Benyamin Kahane. Ranam last year was granted amnesty by then–Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as part of a gesture to bolster Abbas.

  • Jamal Abu Al-Rub, a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from the Samarian village of Qabatya, just outside Jenin. Al-Rub is commonly known on the Palestinian street by his nickname, Hitler, for his routine public executions of Palestinians his group has suspected of collaborating with Israel. Al-Rub is accused by the Jewish state of planning several terror attacks.
  • Zacharia Zubeida, a former Al Aqsa Brigades terrorist leader from Jenin who was also pardoned by Olmert in 2007. Zubeida is accused of multiple terrorist attacks and for a time was one of Israel’s most wanted terrorists.
  • Abu Mahar Ranam, a Fatah central committee member who openly opposes peace talks with Israel.
  • Sultan Abu al-Ainiin, Fatah’s main representative in Lebanon. He is known for his excellent relations with the Hezbollah terrorist group.

Fares explained to WND the main goals of the Fatah congress.

“We have to check our political ideology. Many things happened in last 20 years since our last congress,” he said. “We must renew and evaluate our internal laws, the structure of our movement and our messages for Palestinian unity. Lastly, we must elect a new leadership for Fatah institutions.”

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