"The vote constitutes an important stop to pump new blood in the movement," said Fatah member Muhammad al-Hurani.

All 107 members of the Revolutionary Council, the second highest institution in the group, voted unanimously to hold the faction's 6th Conference and Fatah election on 4 August 2005, Palestinian officials said.

The decision, against the backdrop of Yasir Arafat's death on 11 November and a Palestinian presidential election set for 9 January, must still be ratified at an as-yet unscheduled session of Fatah's top-drawer Central Committee.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation's Fatah last held a factional conference 14 years ago, when Revolutionary Council and Central Committee members were elected in exile.

Activists

Twelve local leaders were appointed to the Revolutionary Council after Yasir Arafat returned to Gaza under interim peace deals with Israel in the early 1990s, but activists from a generation of Palestinians raised in Israeli-occupied territories have demanded stronger representation.

Fatah official Ahmad Ghnaim said there would be wide
participation by the younger Fatah members.

"It would be the first ever meeting that would bring together all generations of Fatah and it should give a chance to the younger generation to join decision-making bodies," said Central Committee member Abbas Zaka.

The Revolutionary Council also proposed holding a legislative election on 15 May. Palestinians last elected a president and parliament in 1996.