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16 January 2017 Edition

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Fatah Congress in Palestine addressed by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson

• Martina Anderson MEP with Fadwa Barghouti, member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and wife of imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti

‘Sinn Féin will continue to work to build international solidarity and continue to support the Palestinian people’

THE 7th National Congress of Fatah, held in the Palestinian West Bank city of Ramallah, heard solidarity greetings from Sinn Féin delivered by Martina Anderson MEP.

The five-day congress – the first to be held by the party since 2009 – was held on November 28/29 and attended by over 1,300 Fatah delegates. There were also 60 international guests from 28 different countries, including China, India, Sudan, Chile and Germany.

President Mahmoud Abbas was re-elected unanimously as Chair of Fatah and the congress elected Fatah’s 23-member Central Committee and its 132-member Revolutionary Council.

Imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi was elected to the Central Committee with the highest vote of any candidate.

Addressing the conference on the ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People’, Martina Anderson conveyed the solidarity of Sinn Féin and the Irish people to the people of Palestine. She highlighted the shared struggle for freedom and nationhood.

Martina, who is Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine, also stressed the importance of Palestinian unity.

“In any national liberation struggle, division and disunity slices and dices the struggle, damages and weakens it and the people suffer the most,” the Irish MEP told the congress.

“When Palestinians speak with one voice you advance international solidarity with your struggle and your message is heard clearly around the world.

“Sinn Féin will continue to work to build international solidarity and continue to support the Palestinian people.”

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• South African Ambassador to Palestine Ashraf Y Suliman and Secretary General of Kurdistan Democratic National Union Ghafour Makhmouri

Unity in the Palestinian struggle was a theme throughout the congress. In a display of reconciliation and co-operation, Hamas sent a spokesperson to address the Fatah congress for the first time.

A message read out from Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, indicated that Hamas is prepared to put disagreements aside in order work more closely with Fatah and other Palestinian forces in the national interest.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List (a political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in Israel), also spoke on the need to work with democratic forces inside Israel as well as Palestine in order to end the conflict and bring a lasting and just peace.

Representatives of several other Palestinian organisations (including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) also attended the conference.

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The current state and future of the Middle East peace process was also discussed.

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Saeb Erekat made an appeal for greater Palestinian unity, not only to further the Palestinian cause but also to help defeat ISIS/Islamic State/Daesh and extremism in the region.

“Bad ideas cannot be killed with bullets,” he said. “They can only be killed with better ideas.”

Fadwa Barghouti, wife of imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, criticised Israel’s human rights abuses against prisoners and its policy of criminalising the Palestinian resistance. She also highlighted the need to involve women more directly in the struggle.

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestments, Santions (BDS) campaign, also spoke, outlining some of the challenges facing the movement but also pointing to its many recent successes.

The growing success of BDS shows that in showing our international solidarity with Palestine against the Israeli occupation, our purses are power, our wallets are our weapons.

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