In an astonishing move that caught the world by surprise, about 1,250 Fatah party politicians opened their seventh conference in Ramallah on Tuesday by reappointing Mahmoud Abbas chairman. At 81, an invigorated Abbas, a.k.a. Abu Mazen, was voted in unanimously, despite speculations that this time the ruling party of the PA would entertain serious discussions of a post-Abbas future.
Fataḥ, formerly the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, is the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Abbas was elected in January 2005 as President of the Palestinian National Authority until January 2009, but in December 2009 was voted into office indefinitely by the PLO Central Council.
An estimated 75 Fatah representatives from Gaza were not granted permits by Israel to leave the Strip to attend the conference. But its doubtful the vote in Ramallah would have been any different had they been allowed to go through.
The date picked for the conference, as it is done every conference, was November 29, the anniversary of the last time the Arabs in the Land of Israel had a real chance for statehood, which they blew, in the spirit of the late Abba Eban, who said, The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. For the record, Eban did not focus solely on the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians, since he made his immortal observation after the 1973 Geneva Peace Conference with Arab countries (which Syria refused to attend).
November 29 was commemorated by the UN on Tuesday, as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. UN General Assembly president Peter Thomson honored the occasion by wearing a Palestinian flag scarf, just like the one Yasser Arafat wore when he first appeared at the General Assembly back in 1974 as the chief of Fatah – which was established back in 1959 to “organize the armed resistance against Israel,” almost a decade before the 1967 war.
Which brings to mind another Abba Eban immortal observation, from 2004: If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.