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Cablegate: Fatah Revolutionary Council Criticizes

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1703
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

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TAGS: KWBG PGOV PREL PTER PHUM IS
SUBJECT: FATAH REVOLUTIONARY COUNCIL CRITICIZES
NEGOTIATIONS AND PM FAYYAD, LOOKS TOWARD FATAH SIXTH
CONGRESS


1. Summary. The Fatah Revolutionary Council (FRC) met in
Ramallah May 24-26 and addressed four key issues: permanent
status negotiations, Fatah-Hamas dialogue, the Fatah Sixth
Party Congress and PA performance. FRC members criticized
the ongoing negotiations and said if there is no permanent
status agreement by the year's end, Fatah must pursue an
alternative strategy. Some FRC members pushed for dialogue
with Hamas through Arab mediation, but President Abbas was
firm that Hamas must first accept his conditions. FRC
members discussed preparations for the Sixth Congress, and
most agreed it must be held this summer. However, there was
no decision on the number, composition or selection mechanism
of delegates. The final communiqu highlighted that a new
government should include Fatah and other political factions.
There were strong critics of PM Fayyad's government,
especially Nasser Yusif and Haj Ismayil Jabr, but Abbas
strongly defended Fayyad. End Summary.

2. Note: FRC members Adnan Samara, Muhammad al-Madani, Raji
al-Nijmi, Samir Shahadah, Zafir Nubani and Ahmad Ghnaym
briefed POL Specialist on the discussions described below.
End Note.

Negotiations' Failure and Alternative Strategy
--------------------------------------------- -

3. In opening the meeting, PA President and Fatah Chairman
Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) expressed concern over the "fading
hope" of an agreement this year and his personal
disappointment in the process, but said he will continue to
work for an agreement. Ahmad Quraya' (Abu Ala'a) said
negotiations continue and are serious, but he doubts there
will be a breakthrough. Most FRC members criticized
negotiations and pointed to the declining chances of an
agreement this year. Most also said they want Fatah to
identify alternative strategies if the negotiations fail, and
they agreed a committee should develop such strategies for
FRC consideration. Some FRC members urged Fatah to embrace
armed resistance if negotiations fail, but the overwhelming
majority agreed on a strategy of non-violent resistance if
there is no agreement. The FRC specifically recommended that
Fatah adopt the model that has been used in Bili'n where
activists have held weekly peaceful protests against the
separation barrier.

FRC Favors Fatah-Hamas Dialogue, but
Yemeni Initiative Must be Starting Point
----------------------------------------

4. Many FRC members pushed for dialogue with Hamas through
Arab mediation; however, their position was weakened by
Hamas' refusal to accept the Yemeni initiative and Abbas'
reiteration that he will not engage with Hamas until it
accepts this conditions. Most FRC members supported Abbas'
position and rejected Azzam al-Ahmad's efforts to open a
dialogue with Hamas on implementation of the Yemeni
initiative.

Sixth Fatah Congress
--------------------

5. FRC members discussed preparations for the Sixth
Congress, and most agreed it must be held this summer.
Several members identified Abbas' conflict with Faruk
al-Qaddumi as a key obstacle and suggested the Congress
should only proceed when members are confident it will
improve Fatah's standing. The FRC discussed draft political
platforms developed by the preparatory committee. Many said
the movement's original charter should be changed only by the
Congress when it convenes and Fatah's fundamental principles
as a national liberation movement should remain intact. The
FRC deferred further discussion to the Fatah Central
Committee (FCC).

6. The FRC made no decision on the number of delegates or
the selection mechanism, but there was general agreement on a
maximum of 1,000 delegates. Members suggested the next
Congress preparatory meeting distribute draft Fatah documents
to facilitate input from grassroots leaders and reduce the
number of direct delegates. Some members insisted that the
security sector should have no less than 33 percent of total
delegates.

PM Fayyad's Government
----------------------

7. The third day of the FRC meeting was dedicated to
discussing PA performance. Some members evaluated the

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performance of PM Fayyad and his government positively, but
several key FRC/FCC members were harshly critical, especially
Nasser Yusif and Haj Ismayil Jabr. Yusif described Fayyad as
an "accountant speaking to Generals" and said "the accountant
cannot and should not work on security issues." He compared
Fayyad's PA security forces (PASF) retirement program to
dissolution of the Iraqi army by the Coalition Provisional
Authority. President Abbas defended Fayyad, stressing his
full support for the government.

8. Several FRC members discussed a government reshuffle and
the possibility of a committee to hold a dialogue with Fayyad
and consider the different legal and political scenarios that
would produce a change in the cabinet. The FRC did not
create such a committee, but Azzam al-Ahmad said that he
would meet with PM Fayyad and inform the FRC of their
discussion. The FRC communiqu issued at the end of the
meeting highlighted the call to create a new government that
would include Fatah and other political factions.
WALLES

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