China View
August 4, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party launches its sixth convention Tuesday for the first time in 20 years to renew its leadership.

During the sixth conference since its foundation in 1965, Fatah would elect members for the movement's central committee and the revolutionary council, the highest decision-making bodies.


The central committee comprises 21 members who should serve Fatah for 15 consecutive years. The General Assembly this year would elect 18 members of the committee through confidential voting and then the new members expand the committee by selecting in majority another three people.

The central committee forms the movement's politburo from 11 of its members and sets the missions and the tasks of the political bureau.

The tasks of the central committee are very wide and nearly involving all Fatah activities. It also nominates Fatah representatives in the Palestinian National Council (PNC).

Among other duties, the central committee is to "carry out the general convention and the revolutionary council's decisions and the political platform that the general convention ratifies," according to the movement's organizing code.


The revolutionary council is made up of the central committees' members, the chiefs of Fatah's financial monitoring committee and the movement monitoring and membership protection committee, 50 elected members of the general convention and a series of leaders who represent other Fatah committees and observers.

The revolutionary council is the highest factional executive council and remains in session between the past and the ongoing general convention.

It oversees the implementation of the convention's resolutions, the performance of the movement's central offices, the movement's military affairs, the central committee's decisions and elects the members of the financial monitoring committee and the movement monitoring and membership protection committee.

The revolutionary council has the right to sack or suspend any of its members or the central committee's members but on the condition that at least two-thirds of the council's members approve.


The general assembly comprises the members of the revolutionary council, no more than 11 representatives of Fatah's working areas or districts and active Fatah members and leaders.

About 2,267 Fatah members were expected to attend this year's conference, but more than 400 Gaza-based invitees are absent as the Islamic Hamas movement, Fatah's bitter rival which controls the Gaza Strip, barred the conferees from traveling to the West Bank.

The general convention discusses the central committee's reports, decisions and activities and it also investigates the conduction and performance of the movement's factional bodies.

The convention elects, grants or votes of no confidence for the central committee and its members.
It also ratifies the basic system of the movement and can amend it with two-thirds approval by the attendants.


The first convention was held in Kuwait in 1962 during which the movement draw up its goals, plans and the organizing structure. A number of less major meetings followed that conference, including one in late 1964 when Fatah agreed to declare its foundation on Jan. 1, 1965, and one after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war when Fatah endorsed the military activity and guerrilla fighting against Israel.

The second major conference was held near the Syrian capital Damascus in 1968 in which the members renewed calls for reviving the revolutionary council in the organizing structure to monitor the work of the central committee. The members elected a new central committee of 10 members as well.

In September 1971, Fatah held its third conference following bloody clashes in Jordan and the departure of Fatah and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) from Amman. A new central committee was elected and the movement's internal basic system was ratified. The significant progress at that conference was the opening of the door before Arabs who wanted to join Fatah.

The fourth conference was held in Damascus in 1980 following Israeli threats to attack the PLO in Lebanon. At the time, the 500members of the conference announced that the United States was also a key enemy to the Palestinians and called for a strategic alliance with the Soviet Union.

The fifth conference was held in Tunisia in 1989 with more than1,000 members attending. The conferees agreed to expand the central committee and to appoint a general command for the movement and to increase armed struggle against Israel.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017