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U.S. 'partner' defends 'right' to resist Israeli 'occupation'

Logo of the Fatah party

JERUSALEM – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party will not recognize Israel’s right to exist and reserves the right to “resistance” against the Jewish state, a top Fatah official declared today.

“In our internal constitution, we as a party don’t recognize Israel and nobody asked us to recognize Israel,” declared Fatah strongman Mahmoud Dahlan in an interview today with PA television. “There won’t be a change during our congress next month in this position, but we understand the Palestinian government must respect international agreements.”

“Military resistance against occupation is a right guaranteed to us by international law. Only the Fatah leadership can decide when to use this tool or not,” said Dahlan in the interview, translated from Arabic by WND.

Dahlan was responding to a statement last week from Rafiq al-Nache, a member of Fatah’s central committee and head of the party’s internal court, announcing Fatah will never recognize Israel’s right to exist.

U.S. policy considers Fatah to be moderate. President Obama supports the creation of a Fatah-led Palestinian state. Dahlan works closely with U.S. officials and personally oversees several PA accounts that contain tens of millions of dollars in U.S. aid.

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 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,” Fares said. “We won’t [give up] the resistance and embark on a strategy of only negotiations with the Israelis.”

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:

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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