As he lighted a torch in the grounds of his West Bank
headquarters, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last night
celebrated the 48th anniversary of the Fatah Movement, saying that
year 2013 would see the implementation of Palestinian
During his speech, Abbas hoped that 2013 would be a year of
freedom and independence, with prisoners freed and refugees
returning to their homeland.
The Palestinian president spoke of
last month’s historic United Nations vote upgrading Palestine’s
diplomatic standing, referring to it as the “birth certificate” of
a Palestinian state.
“We have a birth certificate... and
we want to complete the march toward full independence,” he said.
“Next year, 2013, will be the year of statehood and independence.”
Despite the U.N. vote and widespread
international support for Palestinian statehood, Israel still
occupies the West Bank, maintains tight controls of movement of
goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip and has annexed
largely-Arab east Jerusalem.
Direct peace talks between Israel
and the Palestinians began in September 2010 but ran around
several weeks later over an intractable dispute about settlement
building, and international efforts to bring the two sides closer
together have so far led nowhere.
Fatah is on Tuesday to mark its
anniversary in the Gaza Strip for the first time since its rival,
Hamas, seized power there in 2007.
Under Egyptian mediation, the two groups made a reconciliation
agreement in April 2011, although it has so far not been
Abbas called for the deal to be
completed, saying that there was a Palestinian “national
consensus” for unity, which was needed for the Palestinians “to
build on what has been achieved with the recognition of our state
and the steadfastness in the face of Israeli aggression on the
The Fatah anniversary commemorates
the first operation against Israel claimed by its armed wing then
known as Al-Assifa (The Thunderstorm in Arabic) on January 1,