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Palestinian Fatah Party Factions Join Forces Ahead of January Polls


Factions of the ruling Palestinian Fatah Party say they have resolved their differences and will submit a unified party list ahead of legislative elections scheduled for January 25.

After marathon talks moderated by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah activists agreed to resolve their differences and join forces to contest the January elections.

The January 25 legislative elections are for 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. However when Fatah submitted its list of candidates for the election several weeks ago, many Fatah members objected, saying the list heavily favored older Fatah Party members known as the "Old Guard" who were close associates of deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and President Abbas.

Younger party leaders led by imprisoned Palestinian activist, Marwan Barghouti, submitted a separate list ahead of Fatah primaries, and when several key primary contests were canceled, they threatened to boycott the vote.

Mr. Barghouti who is currently serving five life terms in an Israeli prison for murder was joined by an important Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Dahlan. Speaking Wednesday Mr. Dahlan says Fatah's new election list is a victory for Fatah reformers.

Mr. Dahlan says no ministers, and no members of the Executive Committee, or key "old guard" power brokers, will be on the list in order to give an equal opportunity for younger Fatah Party members to contest the elections.

Many of the so-called "old guard" members of Fatah are perceived by many Palestinians to be tainted with corruption.

In recent municipal contests Fatah has been heavily out-polled by the Islamic militant group Hamas, which, following the split within Fatah emerged as the strongest unified party in the Palestinian territories.

The emergence of Hamas has alarmed Israel which says it will not negotiate with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas. International donors have also threatened to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas joins a future Palestinian government. Hamas which has called for the destruction of Israel is responsible for many suicide attacks and is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.