Mr Abbas's path to power has just become easier with Fatah leader Barghouthi announcing that he will not run for the leadership of the Palestinian
people. The jailed Fatah leader only recently announced that he was running for the top office, and thus risking spliting the movement. Fatah is a
multilayed movement which draws on large support from all sectors of Palestinian society. The Fatah leadership gave its support by stating that Abbas
is, "the only candidate of the Fatah movement".
According to the NYTimes, in an apparent deal that will bring a younger generation of Palestinians into decision-making roles in the dominant
political faction, Fatah, Marwan Barghouti, a popular politician currently in an Israeli jail, agreed today not to run for the presidency of the
Instead, in a statement read by a Palestinian minister who visited him in jail today, Mr. Barghouti called on Palestinians to support Fatah's
candidate, Mahmoud Abbas, 69, in elections on Jan. 9. Mr. Abbas has already succeeded Mr. Arafat as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Mr. Barghouti is especially popular with younger Palestinians and Palestinian militants of Fatah, who believe that Mr. Abbas will betray Mr. Arafat's
legacy of violent struggle against Israeli occupation. And Mr. Barghouti's popularity was only enhanced by his jailing - five life sentences for
complicity in the murder of five Israelis during the intifada.
Until his arrest and imprisonment, Mr Barghouti was the head of the Fatah faction in the West Bank.
He was sentenced by Israeli court last May, on charges related to the killings of 26 Israelis in attacks by Fatah-linked militants. He denied the
charges, saying he was a politician and not involved in violence.
The Israelis have shown no inclination to release him early in order to return to the occupied territories as a political leader after Mr Arafat's
death, reports Tines Online.
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The Palestinians have just made an intelligent political choice. By attempting to stand unified they are strenghting the Palestinian people's hand
at the bargaining table for a Palestinian state. Israel would have an easier job if they were dealing with a disunified state, and leaders who do not
hold a popular mandate.
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[edit on 27-11-2004 by Banshee]