Abbas moving to boot political opponents and tighten grip on power, critics claim

Differences erupt among Palestinian factions ahead of PLO parliament meeting; Abed Rabbo: Session will just be about personal changes.

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August 31, 2015 01:22
2 minute read.
abbas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to convene the PLO’s parliament- in-exile, the Palestinian National Council (PNC), in order to elect new members of the PLO Executive Committee, is facing strong criticism from several Palestinian factions and officials.

Abbas’s critics claim his true intention behind the move is to get rid of his political opponents and tighten his grip on power. They also claim that contrary to recent reports, Abbas has no intention to resign or quit political life.

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One of Abbas’s critics, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said that although he welcomed the decision to convene the PNC, he expressed concern that the upcoming session, which is scheduled to take place in Ramallah in mid-September, would be solely devoted to making personal changes in the PLO leadership.

Abed Rabbo, who was recently dismissed from his job as PLO secretary-general by Abbas, said the PNC meeting should also discuss ways of “correcting” the Palestinian political strategy “in light of the failure of the Oslo Accords.” He said the PNC session should be preceded by a meeting of representatives of various PLO factions to agree on the agenda and future steps.

Two Palestinian groups, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), also called on Sunday for holding a meeting of PLO representatives ahead of the planned PNC session. The two groups said the meeting would agree on the agenda of the session and discuss ways of implementing the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation accords signed over the past few years.

Abbas’s critics also note that he took the decision to convene the PNC without consulting other Palestinian factions.

They also expressed opposition to holding an extraordinary, and not a regular, session of the PNC.

“The Palestinian National Council should hold a regular meeting, and not an extraordinary session,” said PFLP official Leila Khaled. “We didn’t convene the council when we had three wars in the Gaza Strip, so why is it necessary to hold an emergency session now?” Khaled and other Palestinians claimed Abbas’s real goal behind calling an emergency session was to form a new PLO Executive Committee that would consist of his loyalists.

Hassan Khraisheh, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said the way Abbas called for convening the PNC shows that “something is unclear.” He claimed Abbas was trying to create a different political reality by forming a new PLO Executive Committee.

Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad and Hamas have announced that they did not receive an invitation to attend the PNC session.

The two groups said that even if they are invited, they intend to boycott the meeting, saying it is aimed only at serving Abbas’s political interests.


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