Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority, unanimously re-elected 81-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas as party leader this week.
In addition to leader of Fatah, Abbas holds the titles: leader of the PLO and President of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas has unofficially held the job of President of the State of Palestine since 2005, but was officially chosen for the job on November 2008 by the PLO’s Central Council.
The election of President Abbas to a new five-year term took place at the first Fatah conference since 2009.
There is much speculation over who will succeed the ageing leader. President Abbas has until now rebuffed calls from Palestinians and Arab leaders for him to signal towards possible successors.
Conspicuously missing from the conference were a number of former Palestinian leaders including Muhammad Dahlan – the former leader of Fatah in Gaza. In recent years a number of Fatah officials have been ousted from the Party and Abbas’s leadership has been criticised for becoming increasingly insular.
Jihad Tummaleh, a self-exiled associate of Dahlan, said of the conference “We won’t recognise the decisions. This is an exclusionary conference. The results of the conference are not legitimate, including the election of the Central Committee”.