At its controversial party congress, the Fatah Party has elected a crop of younger leaders, which had long hoped to supplant the outgoing executive committee, a collection of Arafat cronies and contemporaries which many had insisted were corrupt and out of touch with the modern situation.
Among the big winners in the vote was Marwan Barghouti, who managed to secure a spot of the powerful Central Committee despite the notable handicap of being held in an Israeli prison at the time of the vote. Barghouti is even seen as a possible candidate to replace PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Barghouti, a key official in Fatah’s militant wing, was arrested by Israeli forces in 2002 and eventually sentenced to five life sentences for his role in the Second Intifada, a major uprising which saw significant clashes between Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli officials are said to be mulling the release of Barghouti and at least one minister, Minority Affaris Minister Avishay Braverman, is openly advocating his release as a way to strengthen the more moderate elements in the Fatah party. Other members of the far-right ruling coalition oppose the release however, on the grounds that Fatah is itself a terrorist organization.