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Opening night of much-hyped Seventh Fatah Congress a perplexing snooze

Grant Rumley
30th November 2016 - Quoted by Dov Lieber - Times of Israel

The opening night of the Seventh Fatah Congress — which was hyped as the event that would usher in a new age for the Palestinian party currently ruling the West Bank, and perhaps see a possible successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas crowned — was both mystifying and dull, revealing, perhaps, that it was put together to delegitimize certain Fatah members rather than as the democratic measure the UN praised it for being.

The highlight of Tuesday’s opening night was supposed to be Abbas’s speech, which would set a new direction for Fatah and chart a new course for the entire Palestinian national movement for years to come.

But after two relentless hours of speeches by a variety of minor non-Palestinian politicians, through which the crowd began to slowly stream out of the auditorium or doze off, the 81-year-old Abbas decided on a whim he would deliver his speech another night.

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But the real story of the congress, according to Grant Rumley, research fellow at the Defense of Democracies, was those who weren’t invited.

“The biggest impact of the conference happened before the conference even started,” said Rumley.

Rumley, who attend the congress, said Abbas is seizing the chance to close ranks while “his rivals are at their weakest and he feels little external pressure from the White House to reform internally.”

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Tags

abbas, palestinians