ON 4th August, Al-Hayat al-Jadidah daily carried a report saying that ‘Marwan al-Barghouthi, Fatah secretary and Legislative Council member, has sent a letter to Fatah’s Sixth General Congress calling for ‘a discussion on all the issues and revising all past experiences with the utmost courage and objectivity, as well as with all possible frankness and honesty.’
In it, he also called for ‘those who have not carried out their tasks properly and those who have damaged our movement with their behaviour to be held accountable, because they are the ones who bear the responsibility for the regressions, setbacks and defeats of the movement. This, however, should be done without any settling of scores on a personal basis and without any selfish and narrow interests. It should also be carried out without the mentality of exclusion and affiliation with camps.
‘There is, moreover, a need for a thorough and brave discussion on the relationship between Fatah on the one hand and the PLO, its institutions, and the PNA on the other.
‘In addition, there is a need to discuss establishing independent institutions for the movement and to avoid it dissolving into the PLO and PNA.
‘Furthermore, there is a need for a drastic development of its internal system in order for it to be in line with changes, particularly since the movement is present in the homeland.’
The report added that in his letter to the Congress, which he sent from his cell, Barghouthi said: ‘We warn against repeating what has happened with the Tanthim (Fatah’s organisation) in the homeland and abroad.
‘We consequently call for a genuine representation for our movement outside the homeland in both the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council. We also call for establishing a real partnership and not merely a symbolic representation that is worthless and that has no effect on the decision-making,’ adding that the time has come to reach ‘a creative balance in the movement, as well as in all its institutions at home and abroad.’
He emphasised: ‘Politically speaking, since we are still in the phase of national liberation and since Fatah is the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Movement, it considers that the basic, main, first, and sacred task in the homeland and abroad for the Palestinian people is to continue the national struggle towards ending the Israeli occupation and settlement activity and towards imposing a comprehensive withdrawal to the borders that existed on 4th June 1967, including in occupied East Jerusalem.
‘This also includes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that enjoys full sovereignty and whose capital is East Jerusalem.
‘In addition, this task includes the right of the refugees to return to their homes, based on Security Council Resolution 194, and the release of all the prisoners and detainees.’
Barghouthi stressed that ‘the resistance against the Israeli occupation is a national duty as well as a legitimate right granted by the monotheistic religions, international legitimacy, and international law.
This resistance will end only with the end of the occupation and with the achievement of the national rights of our people,’ emphasising that ‘national unity should be regarded as a national and a Fatah principle, as well as an indispensable requirement, particularly in the phase of national liberation.
‘Furthermore, national unity is a prerequisite for the victory of the oppressed peoples and the national liberation movements. Consequently, Fatah will continue its tireless quest and effort to accomplish the national unity of the people, homeland, PNA, and factions.’
Barghouthi called for ‘adhering to the democratic option as a basis for the Palestinian political system and for insisting on holding the presidential, legislative, and local elections according to the periodic manner as stipulated by the Basic Law of the PNA, as well as the other laws. There is a need to also adhere to the principles and foundations of a democratic system, primarily the banning of the use of violence to solve internal problems, disagreements and conflicts.’
In addition, he urged the Congress members to ‘establish a national, professional, and modern security establishment that can assume the task of defending all the people and the homeland, as well as preserving security, order and stability, and protecting public and private properties. This should be a security establishment that is free of any factional conflict, that does not interfere in political affairs and conflicts or in internal democratic disputes, and that is subordinate to the legitimate and elected political level according to the Basic Law.’
As for the negotiations, Barghouthi called for ‘adhering to the principle of ending the occupation and making Israel completely withdraw to the 4th June 1967 borders – including the city of Jerusalem – as well as to the frank and clear recognition of the resolutions of international legitimacy and their reference points in any negotiations, in the context of a commitment to international law.’
He stressed that there is a need for ‘a comprehensive and immediate suspension of all settlement activities, land expropriation, settlement activity in Jerusalem, demolition and expropriation of houses in Jerusalem, and the Judaization of the city, as well as the need for an official recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to establish a state of their own that enjoys full sovereignty over the territories occupied in 1967; the transfer of all the settlers; and the removal of all the settlements according to Security Council Resolution 194.’
He went on to say: ‘If Israel is committed to the above-mentioned principles, then the negotiations can be resumed from the point at which they were stopped. There should be no regression at all and the negotiations should be limited to the arrangements for an Israeli pullout, rather than negotiate on the principle of withdrawal, given that these negotiations should last for no longer than six months in an attempt to reach an agreement on the occupation.’
As for Fatah, Barghouthi stressed that ‘many of those who pretend to be crying over the condition of the movement have contributed to weakening it; to its lack of cohesion; and to hindering the holding of the movements conferences, including the Sixth Congress, because their positions in the PNA were more important to them than the movement.’
Regarding the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council, he said: ‘Some 20 years after they were elected, both of them bear the responsibility for the setbacks and defeats that the movement has suffered, particularly the defeats in the legislative and local elections as well as the collapse of the PNA and its defeat in Gaza.’
He stressed that ‘phenomena that are well-known to everyone spread through the movement as a result of the absence of any institutions in it. Thus, Fatah bore the brunt of the phenomenon of corruption in the PNA – apart from the intentions of some parties to exaggerate this corruption and exploit it to fight the movement. Nevertheless, this should not make us cover up the truth about the principles of accountability, and the corrupt people should be questioned about the source of their wealth and illegitimate profits. These are matters that were not addressed at all.’
Continuing to discuss the issue of corruption, Barghouthi said: ‘All of a sudden, we have started to see and hear from cadres and leaders – who never had anything apart from their salaries, needs, villas, large houses, luxury cars, entourages, and personal expenses that were enough to spend on an entire organisation – in one or more districts.’ He added: ‘It is unfortunate that the movement uses the excuse that it has no money to pay the allowances for the great martyrs whose families are paid a few hundred shekels – on which entire families have to live. The same goes for the families of the prisoners who are paid nothing by the movement. As for the other factions, they regularly pay their prisoners under all circumstances and despite all the difficulties.’
Barghouthi stated that ‘what is even more dangerous than this is the negligence and shortcomings in the vision of the leadership regarding its tasks. Thus, when this leadership was stationed outside the homeland, it neglected the homeland, which did not receive allocations and budgets equal to the salaries and expenses of a few officials,’ adding that ‘when this leadership returned to the homeland, it ignored the movement’s body and the organisation, as well as marginalising the Tanthim and the institutions of the movement both at home and abroad. However, this was not done in order to preserve the movement and Tanthim at home, but rather to delight in power.’
He concluded by saying ‘I hope that the Congress will elect the leaderships that it is sure can be trusted with the blood of martyrs, the suffering of the prisoners, and the pain of the wounded people, as well as with the national constants. These will have to be leaderships that give the people and the supporters additional confidence in our movement. They should also have a clean national and factional record in the struggle and have clean hands; these should be leaderships that have national, military, organisational, and professional experience.
‘Most importantly, however, these have to be leaderships that are ready to stand at the forefront and present an honourable model of fortitude, courage, and readiness to offer sacrifices, because leadership in Fatah is a position of martyrdom and victory and not a position for making profits.’