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Re-elected Abbas tells Fatah congress recognition of Israel “won’t last forever”

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Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas gave a three-hour long address yesterday to the Fatah congress, which is meeting this week in Ramallah.

Although Abbas praised the Oslo Accords, a series of peace agreements with Israel in the 1990s, as an “important step” for the Palestinian people, he warned that he “will not recognise a Jewish state,” a key demand by Israeli leaders.

Abbas told members of his Fatah faction that recognition of Israel “will not last forever” if Israel does not recognise a Palestinian state.

He told the 1,400 delegates that 2017 will be the “year of the Palestinian state and end of the Israeli occupation” and predicted that the next Fatah congress will be held in “East Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine”.

He encouraged Palestinians to use “popular peaceful resistance in all of its spheres” and hailed the influence of the PA at the United Nations, where it is recognised as a non-member observer state.

On Tuesday, the Fatah congress delegates overwhelmingly endorsed Abbas’s continued leadership of the party. The congress is supposed to meet every four years, but gathered this week for the first time since 2009. Abbas, 81, has given no indication of who might succeed him, although the congress could choose a deputy party leader.

Critics have suggested that the Fatah congress is being used by Abbas to effectively oust opponents, especially supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, who headed the Palestinian security forces in Gaza until Hamas forcibly seized power there in 2007. Dahlan was expelled by Abbas from Fatah and effectively exiled to Dubai in 2011.

At the start of this week’s congress, a statement was read from Hamas’s overall leader Khaled Mashaal, who said he is “ready to cooperate with Fatah”.