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AIPAC backs Fatah charter resolution

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is backing a congressional resolution urging Mahmoud Abbas to renounce his Fatah Party’s alleged charter.

The non-binding resolution, introduced last month in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the minority whip, “urges Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also Chairman of his Fatah party, to officially abrogate the 10 articles in the Fatah Constitution that call for Israel’s destruction and terrorism against Israel, oppose any political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and label Zionism as racism; and condemns the continuing existence of these articles as part of the Fatah Constitution.”

AIPAC’s backing for the resolution, confirmed to JTA by a spokeswoman at the organization, comes as the lobby is also endorsing a letter calling on the Bush administration to increase financial aid for Abbas ahead of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. AIPAC’s support of that letter, which was initiated by Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), has drawn sharp criticism from some of its donors who back right-wing Israel-related causes.

The existence of the charter is a matter of controversy. The group that has lobbied most intensely for the resolution, the Zionist Organization of America, has been unable to produce an original version and instead relies on translations on right-wing, pro-Israel Web sites.

Fatah spokesmen say the 1964 charter was superseded by the most recent Fatah congress, in 1989, an assertion backed by contemporary news accounts. Fatah recognized Israel at the 1989 congress, albeit with conditions that Israel considered unacceptable.

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