Archive for Fatah

Palestinians killed in ‘Nakba’ clashes

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15/05/2011 by 3071km

Date published: 15th May 2011

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Several killed and dozens wounded in Gaza, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun and West Bank, as Palestinians mark Nakba Day.

”]Several people have been killed and scores of others wounded in the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun in Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Palestinians mark the “Nakba”, or day of “catastrophe”.

The “Nakba” is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel, when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled following Israel’s declaration of statehood.

At least one Palestinian was killed and up to 80 others wounded in northern Gaza as Israeli troops opened fire on a march of at least 1,000 people heading towards the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

A group of Palestinians, including children, marching to mark the “Nakba” were shot by the Israeli army after crossing a Hamas checkpoint and entering what Israel calls a “buffer zone” – an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers generally shoot trespassers, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City on Sunday.

“We are just hearing that one person has been killed and about 80 people have been injured,” Johnston said.

“There are about 500-600 Palestinian youth gathered at the Erez border crossing point. They don’t usually march as far as the border. There has been intermittent gunfire from the Israeli side for the last couple of hours.

“Hamas has asked us to leave; they are trying to move people away from the Israeli border. They say seeing so many people at the border indicates a shift in politics in the area.”

Separately in south Tel Aviv, one Israeli man was killed and 17 were injured when a 22-year-old Arab Israeli driver drove his truck into a number of vehicles on one of the city’s main roads.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the driver, from an Arab village called Kfar Qasim in the West Bank, was arrested at the scene and is being questioned.

“Based on the destruction and the damage at the scene, we have reason to believe that it was carried out deliberately,” Rosenfeld said. But he said he did not believe the motive was directly linked to the anniversary of the Nakba.

West Bank clashes

One of the biggest Nakba demonstrations was held near Qalandiya refugee camp and checkpoint, the main secured entry point into the West Bank from Israel, where about 100 protesters marched, Al Jazeera’s  Nisreen El-Shamayleh reported from Ramallah.

Some injuries were reported from tear gas canisters fired at protesters there, El-Shamayleh said.

Small clashes were reported throughout various neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and cities in the West Bank, between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

Israeli police said 20 arrests were made in the East Jerusalem area of Issawiyah for throwing stones and petrol bombs at Israeli border police officers.

About 70 arrests have been made in East Jerusalem throughout the Nakba protests that began on Friday, two days ahead of the May 15 anniversary, police spokesman Rosenfeld said.

Tensions had risen a day earlier after a 17-year-old Palestinian boy died of a gunshot wound suffered amid clashes on Friday in Silwan, another East Jerusalem neighbourhood.

Police said the source of the gunfire was unclear and that police were investigating, while local sources told Al Jazeera that  the teen was shot in random firing of live ammunition by guards of Jewish settlers living in nearby Beit Yonatan.

‘Palestinians killed’

Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported that Israeli forces killed four Syrian citizens who had been taking part in an anti-Israeli rally on the Syrian side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border on Sunday.

Israeli army radio said earlier that dozens were wounded when Palestinian refugees from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border were shot for trying to break through the frontier fence. There was no comment on reports of the injured.

Meanwhile, Matthew Cassel, a journalist in the Lebanese town of Ras Maroun, on the southern border with Israel, told Al Jazeera that at least two Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon were killed in clashes there.

“Tens of thousands of refugees marched to the border fence to demand their right to return where they were met by Israeli soldiers,” he said.

“Many were killed. I don’t know how many but I saw with my own eyes a number of unconscious and injured, and at least two dead.

“Now the Lebanese army has moved in, people are running back up the mountain to get away from the army.”

A local medical source told the AFP news agency that Israeli gunfire killed six people and wounded 71 others in Ras Maroun.

‘End to Zionist project’

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned Sunday’s demonstrations.

“I regret that there are extremists among Israeli Arabs and in neighbouring countries who have turned the day on which the State of Israel was established, the day on which the Israeli democracy was established, into a day of incitement, violence and rage”, Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

“There is no place for this, for denying the existence of the State of Israel. No to extremism and no to violence. The opposite is true”, he said.

Earlier Sunday Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas-controlled Gaza, repeated the group’s call for the end of the state of Israel.

Addressing Muslim worshippers in Gaza City on Sunday, Haniyeh said Palestinians marked this year’s Nakba “with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”.

“To achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land, we should have one leadership,” Haniyeh said, praising the recent unity deal with its rival, Fatah, the political organisation which controls the West Bank under Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership.

Meanwhile, a 63 second-long siren rang midday in commemoration of the Nakba’s 63rd anniversary.

Over 760,000 Palestinians – estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants – fled or were driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed Israel’s creation.

Many took refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. Some continue to live in refugee camps.

About 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind in what is now Israeli territory and are known as Arab Israelis. They now total around 1.3 million, or some 20 percent of Israel’s population.

No Gaza optimism over easing blockade

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , , on 20/06/2010 by 3071km

Written by Jon Donnison

Date published: Sunday 20th June 2010

Source: BBC News

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Fishing boats in Gaza City's harbour

“I don’t need ketchup or mayonnaise from Israel. I need my business back,” says Nasser al-Helo standing on a busy street in Gaza City.

Mr Helo used to run a business making steel doors in the Gaza Strip. Before the blockade he was able to import metal from Israel and would produce more than 300 doors a month.

“Now, it’s a big zero,” he says. “I’ve lost $300,000 in the past three years.”

Private industry has been devastated by Israel’s blockade, which was tightened in 2007 after the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the coastal territory.

Factories making anything from furniture to textiles, floor tiles to biscuits have gone under.

The Israeli blockade has starved them of the raw materials they need to produce their goods.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs. The United Nations estimates unemployment is at 40% in Gaza. Mr Helo used to employ 32 people at his factory. Now there are only four.

‘Not enough’

The overwhelming feeling among Gazans is that Israel’s announcement on Thursday that it is “easing the blockade” is simply not enough.

Omar Shabban

The details of how the blockade will be “liberalised” are still not clear, but reportedly the Israeli authorities will allow more civilian goods to enter, including all food items, toys, stationery, kitchen utensils, mattresses and towels. Construction materials for civilian projects will be allowed in under international supervision.

“Of course it’s not enough,” says Omar Shabban, an economist at the Gaza-based think tank PalThink.

“What about the blockade on people for starters?” he asks.

“One-and-a-half million people are trapped in a prison unable to leave.”

Israel maintains tight control of the border with Gaza, only allowing out a limited number of people to seek medical treatment. Israel says this is needed to protect itself from “terrorist” attacks.

The Rafah crossing into Egypt has also been closed since 2007, although special medical cases are also sporadically allowed to pass through it.

Desperate vendors

Mr Shabban argues that what is really needed in Gaza is not a few more food items – many of which are already available through smuggling tunnels running under the Egyptian border – but a total lifting of the blockade to allow people to work in Israel, as over 100,000 people used to do.

GOODS ALLOWED INTO GAZA

Coriander

  • Canned meat and tuna, but not canned fruit
  • Mineral water, but not fruit juice
  • Sesame paste (tahini) but not jam
  • Tea and coffee but not chocolate
  • Cinnamon but not coriander

Details of Gaza blockade revealed

Gaza also used to export many goods to Israel and beyond. Strawberries and flowers are still two of Gaza’s most famous products, but most of them never get beyond the barrier into Israel.

Instead, in strawberry season in January they are sold dirt-cheap off huge wheelbarrows on street corners, the vendors desperate to sell them at any price before they rot.

Israel has argued that the blockade is necessary to put pressure on Hamas.

The group came out top in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, but the EU, the US and Israel refused to recognise Hamas in government unless it renounced violence and its commitment to destroy Israel.

Then in June 2007, Hamas ousted its secular rival, Fatah, and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority security forces from Gaza.

Rockets

Over the past decade, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel, killing more than 20 Israelis.

Man selling strawberries in Gaza

But since Israel’s major offensive on Gaza in 2009, which devastated the territory and left more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead, the number has dropped dramatically. One person – a Thai farm worker – has been killed in southern Israel by a rocket fired from Gaza in the past 12 months.

Hamas has tried to rein in rocket fire, but it does not control all the militant groups in Gaza and sporadic, usually ineffective rocket fire continues.

Israel says it is the responsibility of the Hamas authorities to stop all rocket attacks, and that the blockade is necessary to stop weapons being brought into Gaza.

But at least until now the list of items banned from entering Gaza has gone far beyond weapons. Coriander, chocolate and children’s toys have famously been excluded.

Low expectations

In actual fact, such things are readily available in the supermarkets in Gaza.

Millions of dollars worth of goods are smuggled in through tunnels from Egypt.

Butcher in Gaza City

There is food on the shelves and in the markets but the blockade means it is too expensive for most people to afford. A kilo of beef smuggled from Egypt costs around $15, more than most Gazans earn in a day.

“We are living on a black-market economy,” says Mr Shabban.

Gazans have little faith in Israel’s announcement. At best, they will wait and see if anything changes in the coming weeks and months.

Indeed, like most places in the world, people here are more preoccupied with the World Cup. The cafes of Gaza City on Friday were full of people cheering on Algeria as they thrashed out a dire draw with England.

The beaches in Gaza are packed this weekend with thousand of children enjoying summer camps and frolicking in the Mediterranean Sea.

But as they play in the water, a reminder that the blockade of Gaza is still very much in place – the sound of machine-gun fire just a few kilometres off the coast.

Israeli navy ships, which continue to occupy and control Gaza’s territorial water, regularly open fire on Palestinian fishing boats that stray beyond the limits of where Israel allows them to fish.

Yet most of the children did not even bat an eyelid at the gunfire.

The blockade here has been come a way of life. Few people are optimistic that will change.

KEY ENTRY POINTS INTO GAZA

map of Gaza showing key entry points• Rafah – under Egyptian control. Since flotilla deaths, opened indefinitely for people only. Has been closed for the vast majority of the time over the last three years. Makeshift tunnels in this area used to smuggle in goods, including weapons

• Erez – under Israeli control. Crossing for pedestrians and cargo. Access restricted to Palestinians under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and to Egyptians or international aid officials

• Karni – main crossing point for commercial goods

• Sufa – official crossing point for construction materials

• Kerem Shalom – for commercial and humanitarian goods. These last three crossings have been frequently closed by Israeli army since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007

• Opening of seaport and bus routes to West Bank had been agreed in 2005 but plans since shelved

• Airport – bombed by Israel in early years of the 2000 Intifada

• ‘Buffer zone’ inside Gaza where it borders Israel. Gazan farmers forbidden to enter the zone

UN delay on Gaza report condemned

Posted in Activism, Fatah, Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, History, International community, Israel, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Peace process, Pictures, Siege, USA foreign policy, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/10/2009 by 3071km

Date published: Sunday 4th October 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Dahlan called for a probe by the PLO into  the
decision to delay the vote [GALLO/GETTY]

Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have condemned the decision by the UN to defer voting on the Goldstone report, that highlighted war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the formers’ offensive on the territory in December.

The factions, including Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad, met in Gaza City on Sunday and will form a joint committee to investigate why the vote was delayed.

Bassem Khuri, the Palestinian economy minister, resigned on Saturday, reportedly in protest at the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) agreement not to discuss the document.

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) postponed a vote to endorse the report until March after Pakistan made a request to do so on the behest of several Arab, African and Muslim nations.

The 575-page report by Richard Goldstone, a South African ex-judge appointed by the UN, blames both the Israelis and Hamas for war crimes, but is more critical of Israeli troops for “targeting and terrorising civilians”.

‘US pressure’

Media reports said that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) delegation to the UNHRC had attempted to prevent discussion of the report under US pressure.

There are no members of Hamas – the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip – on the delegation.

Earlier on Sunday, Mohammed Dahlan, a member of Fatah’s central council, asked the PLO Executive Committee for an official probe into the reasons for the delay in the vote.

“We call on the Palestine Liberation Organisation to form an investigation committee into the causes of asking for a postponement to reach the truth about the situation and it is important to listen to Ambassador Khreisheh [the Palestinian representative at the UN in Geneva] because this is not related to the ambassador but rather to policies,” Dahlan said.

He welcomed the report and praised its content and the integrity of the author.

He said that the Goldstone report is a “substantial national issue that relatively vindicated the Palestinian people and condemned the [Israeli] occupation and its policies”.

‘Defeatist’

Other PLO factions, parliamentary groups and human rights organisations have been criticising the vote delay.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called the step “defeatist” while the secretary general of the People’s Party called for an official investigation.

A joint statement by 14 human rights organisations, called “Justice Postponed is Justice Denied”, was also released, harshly criticising the Palestinian leadership’s conduct on the issue.

The Goldstone report, released last month, investigated the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip last December and January.

About 1,300 Palestinians were killed in Israeli attacks, while 13 Israelis died due to incidents related to the war.

Many analysts have said that Washington sees the findings of the report as complicating the advancement of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli wins Fatah top body seat

Posted in Fatah, Israeli politics, Palestine, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , on 16/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 16th August 2009

Source: BBC News

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Uri Davis

Mr Davis has been a harsh critic of Israel for years

A Jewish-born Israeli has been elected to the governing body of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

Uri Davis, 66, an academic who is married to a Palestinian, is an outspoken critic of what he calls Israel’s “apartheid policies”.

As the only Israeli member of the Revolutionary Council he says he wants to represent non-Arab people who support the Palestinian cause.

He called for an international campaign to boycott Israel to be toughened up.

Dr Davis said his Israeli citizenship made no difference to his election.

“Within the conference itself the welcome was most heartfelt and enthusiastic – the Fatah movement is an open, international movement – membership is not conditional on ethnic origin, it’s conditional on agreement with the main part of the Fatah political programme,” he told the BBC News website.

Dr Davis said he did not define himself as Jewish but as “a Palestinian Hebrew national of Jewish origin, anti-Zionist, registered as Muslim and a citizen of an apartheid state – the State of Israel”.

Fatah congress delegates cast their votes

He was one of around 700 Fatah members competing for 89 open seats in the body, which oversees the group’s day-to-day decision making.

Others elected to Fatah’s revolutionary council included Fadwa Barghouti, the wife of the senior Fatah figure, Marwan Barghouti, who was jailed by Israel five years ago for the murder of five people.

The old guard of Fatah retained only four of the 18 elected seats. The rest went to younger men.

Fatah votes for new council members

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, Hamas, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Non-violent resistance, Palestine, Peace process, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 10th August 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

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President Abbas cast his ballot as voting for Fatah’s governing bodies got under way [AFP]

Delegates at Fatah’s conference in the occupied West Bank have begun voting for a new executive body and assembly that many hope will be filled with fresh faces.

The much-delayed vote got under way on Sunday, with voting expected to last for at least 10 hours and little indication of when results would be due.

Delegates are choosing among 96 candidates, six of them women, standing for election to the 21-member central committee.

They are also selecting from 617 party members, including 50 women, vying for the 80 places open in a 128-seat Revolutionary Council, the movement’s parliament.

The Bethlehem conference has been billed as an opportunity for Fatah to rejuvenate itself and shed its image as corrupt and nepotistic.

Delegates ‘encouraged’

Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh, reporting from Bethlehem, said: “Despite the accusations of nepotism and political money a lot of the delegates we’ve been speaking to have been encouraged by the voting process and the names on the list of nominees.”

One of the favoured candidates for election is Marwan Barghouthi, at 50 a younger, articulate and popular member of the movement, currently in an Israeli jail.Also in the running is Mohammed Dahlan, 48, a Fatah strongman from Gaza
blamed by many for the Hamas takeover there.

While delegates in Bethlehem filled in their voting sheets, about 300 Fatah members from the Gaza Strip, barred by Hamas from attending the conference, dictated their votes by telephone or sent them in by email.

The voting has twice been delayed and what was billed as a three-day conference has dragged on.

But Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and a nominee for Fatah’s central committee, said that this was in itself positive for Fatah.

“Many people think that Fatah is like many other parties in this region where its leader sits somewhere in the mountain and he sends something and people will see with one eye, hear with one ear, speak with one tongue,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Fatah is unlike this, we have, I think, 2,325 delegates. We had 2,325 opinions, every point [was discussed] … but at the end of the day, now, we have a political programme.”

Political programme

Delegates adopted the new political programme, which calls for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, earlier on Sunday. Erekat said that while the programme was a call for peace, it required Israel to fulfil its commitments.”Fatah wants peace, but peace cannot be obtained without Israel withdrawing to the 1967 border, establishing a Palestinian state on the ’67 border with East Jerusalem as it capital,” he told Al Jazeera.

The adopted programme reads: “The aim of Fatah as a liberation movement is to end the Israeli occupation and achieve independence for the Palestinian people in a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

While the platform reserved the movement’s right to take up arms against Israeli occupation, it also encouraged Palestinians to use more peaceful means to
pressure Israel, like demonstrations and support of a boycott of Israel abroad.

“At this stage, we are focusing on popular struggle, but the armed struggle is a right reserved to us in international law,” Nabil Shaath, a senior party member, said.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, described the Fatah platform as “not very promising.”

“But there is no other way for the Middle East but to sit down and strike a deal and agree on a peace for the region and arrangement between us and the Palestinians,” Barak said, calling on Abbas to enter negotiations.

Controversy plagues Hamas West Bank conference

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, Palestine, Videos, West Bank with tags , , , on 05/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 5th August 2009

Soure: Al Jazeera English

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A senior official in the Palestinian Fatah movement has accused the party’s leaders of abusing their positions and pocketing party cash for themselves.

Farouk Kaddoumi made the accusation as Fatah met in the West Bank town of Bethlehem for its first conference in 20 years.

But as Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh reports, the conference was dominated by infighting and controversy.

Can Fatah reinvent itself?

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Pictures, USA foreign policy, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/08/2009 by 3071km

Written by Heather Sharp

Date published: 4th August 2009

Source: BBC News

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Delegates at 6th Fatah Council, Bethlehem

Fatah has not held a conference for 20 years

By Heather Sharp
BBC News, Bethlehem

The gleaming black Mercedes, Jaguars and BMWs are lined up in front of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

Fatah cars in front of church of nativity (03.07.09)

Many Palestinians are angered by Fatah leaders’ expensive cars

With blasting horns, Mahmoud Abbas’s convoy sweeps through cordoned off streets, whisking the Palestinian Authority president to the first general conference of his Fatah movement in 20 years.

The 2,000 or so gathered members range from ageing Palestinian exiles returning after decades abroad, to former militant commanders from West Bank refugee camps, to Mr Abbas and his suited contemporaries.

The conference’s task, as many see it, is to save Fatah – formed by Yasser Arafat five decades ago to lead armed struggle against Israeli occupation – from disintegration and decline.

The movement’s critics see it as a nepotistic, corrupt and ineffective body whose leadership has given away too much to Israel, and failed to hold the Palestinians together after Mr Arafat’s death in 2004.

When Palestinian voters handed the militant Islamist faction Hamas victory in 2006 parliamentary elections, it was widely seen to be as much punishment of Fatah as it was endorsement of Hamas.

Occupation continued

About 15 years ago, Fatah threw its weight behind peace negotiations as the route to Palestinian statehood.

Attallah Awwad, 17, Bethlehem
We tried armed struggle, it didn’t work; we tried negotiation, it didn’t work – maybe new people will have new solutions
Attallah Awwad, student

But now, to many Palestinians, occupation seems more entrenched than ever with Israeli settlements still growing and the current right-wing Israeli government setting out tougher negotiating lines than the last.

“Fatah has lost a lot,” says Palestinian analyst and editor Khalil Shaheen.

Now, international observers are watching to see whether the movement will update its charter – currently committed to “liquidating the Zionist entity” – and shift formally from liberation movement to political party.

But while Fatah may soften its language on armed struggle, it is thought unlikely to outlaw it altogether.

Doing so would “lose the Palestinian people,” says Mr Shaheen, referring to the risk that frustrated voters would be pushed towards the violent “resistance” espoused by Hamas – a particular concern if unity talks lead to elections tentatively slated for next January.

Infighting

But in any case, he says, the struggle between personalities seems to be eclipsing the actual issues at stake.

Woman with poster of Marwan Barghouti, Lebanon (03.07.09)

Marwan Barghouti is seen as a potentially unifying figure

A key task for the conference is to re-elect the organisation’s powerful 21-member central committee, a number of whom have died in post in the 20 years since the last conference.

The battle lines within Fatah have long been characterised as a struggle between the ageing exiled ideologues who founded it and the locally born pragmatists who backed peace talks.

But also vying for a say are members of an even younger generation, who have come of age during the two intifadas, or uprisings, of recent decades.

‘Low, dirty and petty’

The talk at the conference is of bringing in fresh blood, controlling infighting and rooting out corruption.

But there are already concerns over who the 700 extra delegates suddenly added to the conference list are and who their votes will go to.

Fatah figure Mohammad Dahlan

Mohammed Dahlan denies claims of corruption

And the run-up to the conference saw an angry row as Fatah’s 78-year-old exiled chairman, Farouk Kaddoumi, who opposes peace talks and refuses to return to operate under Israeli occupation, accused Mr Abbas of conspiring with Israel to murder Yasser Arafat.

“They really fight their rivals in a very low, dirty and petty manner,” says veteran Palestinian journalist Wafa Amr. And, she says, the new generation is no more united.

There are two younger figures considered most likely to gain central committee seats.

One is Marwan Barghouti, a popular leader currently held in an Israeli prison on five counts of murder.

The other, Mohammed Dahlan, is the former head of a powerful security force in Gaza. But he is a divisive figure and widely believed to be corrupt.

While both hold to the general Fatah position of support for a two-state solution, with armed resistance retained as an option if talks fail, they diverge when it comes to dealing with Hamas.

Mr Barghouti, a militant leader during the second intifada who says he is opposed to attacks on civilians, has long been seen as the only figure likely to have anything close to the unifying power of Arafat.

In 2006, he and prisoners from other factions, including Hamas, drafted a document outlining a unifying platform of principles.

Kaddora Fares, Fatah activist close to Marwan barghouti

Mr Fares says Fatah should reach out to Hamas

Kaddora Fares, a Fatah activist close to Mr Barghouti, describes it as the “only comprehensive document” on Palestinian unity so far.

“We have to be realists, to recognise the truth – that Hamas represents a wide community… We have to stop thinking it will be possible to dismantle a movement,” he says.

Mr Dahlan, however, as the leader of security forces in Gaza during street battles with Hamas in 2007, is at the forefront of the feud between the two factions.

His security forces were supported by the US in what some documentary evidence suggests was a Washington-backed attempt to remove Hamas from power.

And well before that, he was reviled by Hamas for his role in previous PA crackdowns against Islamist militants.

‘No-one like Arafat’

In the bustling streets outside the security cordon, there is little hope that anyone can unite the divided Palestinians.

“No Hamas, no Fatah – all no good,” mutters a man carrying a tray of glasses of tea.

“If I am suffering from the sunrise to the sunset who will I elect? Those people who ride a jeep worth 500,000 Israeli shekels ($125,000), or have $1m villas? Will he be my representative?” asks travel agent Khalil Salahat, 50, his voice rising in anger.

Attallah Awwad, 17, may get his first chance to vote next year.

“We tried armed struggle, it didn’t work. We tried negotiation, it didn’t work. Maybe new people will have new solutions.”

But who? He looks blank. “There is no-one like Arafat.”