Published August 09, 2009
BETHLEHEM, West Bank – The only known Israeli Jewish member of the Palestinian group Fatah announced Sunday he was seeking a position in the movement's key decision-making body.
Uri Davis, 66, a fierce critic of Israel who identifies himself as a Palestinian Hebrew-speaking citizen of "the apartheid state of Israel," said he presented his candidacy for Fatah's Revolutionary Council at the group's conference, which is under way in the West Bank. It is Fatah's first gathering in 20 years.
Davis is one of around 700 Fatah members vying for 89 open seats in the body that oversees the group's day-to-day decision making. Voting will begin Monday evening, and results are expected by Tuesday.
Davis said he hopes "my brothers and sisters in the congress would trust me with that candidacy."
While there are no other Israelis known to be members of Fatah, Palestinian nationalism has had its active supporters on the fringes of Israeli society. Several followers of a tiny Orthodox and anti-Zionist sect, Neturei Karta, visited the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as he lay dying in a Paris hospital in 2004 and have expressed support for Palestinian attacks against Israel.
Davis joined Fatah in the 1980s, at a time when its fighters undertook militant attacks against Israeli citizens, becoming the director of the group's London office. He lived abroad during that period because membership in Fatah was illegal in Israel.
Davis, a professor at a Palestinian university married to a Palestinian, is a longtime critic of Israel's policies toward Palestinians. He refused military conscription in the 1960s, at a time when doing so was considered treason by most Israeli Jews, and wrote a book criticizing the Zionist movement in the mid-70s.
The fluent Arabic speaker said he did not know how good his chances were of winning a seat.