Although final results were not formally announced by late Tuesday, sources in Fatah said that more than half of the Central Committee’s new members were new faces.
These include jailed Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti and former security commanders Muhammad Dahlan, Jibril Rajoub and Tawfik Tirawi. All four were among a group of young guard representatives backed by Abbas.
But others who refused to step aside, such as former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), suffered a humiliating defeat.
A source close to Abbas said he may have to appoint a woman as a member of the committee since no female was elected. He may also have to appoint more members from the Gaza Strip to appease critics who accused him of sidelining the Fatah activists living there
The election of Dahlan came as a surprise to many delegates, particularly in wake of the fact that most of his loyalists in the Gaza Strip were either not present at the conference or did not cast their ballots. Dahlan, who is banned by Hamas from entering the Strip, is reported to have established new bases of power in the West Bank over the past two years. Fatah activists said Dahlan poured millions of dollars on them in anticipation that they would support him in his bid to conquer the faction.
During the conference, many delegates condemned Dahlan and held him responsible for Fatah’s defeat at the hands of Hamas in Gaza in the summer of 2007.
Ahmed Nasr, a top Fatah operative from the Gaza Strip, accused Abbas loyalists of stealing the vote. He said that the results don’t reflect the general atmosphere that prevailed at the Bethlehem convention.
“What happened in Fatah is a real tragedy,” he said. “Every Palestinian will pay a heavy price for this horrible political deterioration of our movement. The results show that massive fraud did occur.”
He added that the results of the election would not only bury Fatah, but the entire Palestinian issue as well.