Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a meeting for the Central Council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian officials on Sunday issued contradictory statements regarding reports that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had resigned as chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and that nine other committee members submitted their resignations during a meeting in Ramallah the previous day.
An official statement released by the Executive Committee made no reference to the reported resignations, while some Palestinian factions and officials ridiculed the reported resignations as a “silly show.”
Abbas, who described the committee as the “government of the State of Palestine” saying it represents all Palestinians, told visiting Polish journalists on Sunday that he and other members of the PLO Executive Committee had indeed resigned.
However, this was denied by Saeb Erekat, who was elected by the committee as PLO secretary- general. He said such resignations could only be submitted to the PLO’s parliament- in-exile, the Palestinian National Council, which is expected to hold a meeting next month. The last time the PNC held a meeting was in 1996.
In its statement, the PLO Executive Committee called for beginning preparations to convene the PNC.
Ghassan Shakaa, a member of the committee, claimed on Sunday that Abbas and nine other members, including himself, had indeed resigned.
He said the other members who quit were Erekat, Farouk Kaddoumi, Muhammad Nashashibi, Hanan Ashrawi, Mahmoud Ismail, Ahmed Majdalani, Riyad al-Khudari and Asad Abdul Rahman.
“These resignations are needed to renew the work and legitimacy of the PLO Executive Committee,” Shakaa explained. “They are needed to inject new blood in the PLO. The dangerous conditions in the region require that we all strengthen our internal situation to confront Israeli aggression and escalation.”
According to Shakaa, the president of the PNC, Salim Zanoun, is the only person authorized to accept or reject the resignations.
Palestinian political analyst Hani al-Masri said that, if true, the resignations are merely an attempt to “reengineer” the PLO and its institutions after more than 20 years of “negligence.”
The entire move, he said, was simply made to replace some members of the Executive Committee.
“These are not real resignations,” Masri explained.
“Those who reportedly submitted their resignations have no intention to leave. They just want to use the resignations to call for an extraordinary meeting of the Palestinian National Council in accordance with Article 14 of the Palestinian Basic Law.”
Another Executive Committee member, Mustafa Barghouti, said the purported resignations were nothing but “technical means” to ensure the quick assembly of the PNC.
Barghouti pointed out that the Executive Committee decided on Saturday night to call for a meeting of the PNC to discuss measures required to “enhance the structure of the PLO in light of existing threats.”
Tayseer Nasrallah, a senior Fatah official, told the Quds Net online newspaper the reported resignations were nothing but a “formal” step to justify convening the PNC, indicating that the officials who reportedly quit would remain in their jobs until the PNC decides whether to accept to reject their resignations.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior official who was recently dismissed by Abbas from his post as PLO secretary-general, said he boycotted the Saturday night meeting because he didn’t want to be part of a “silly play.”
Hamas responded to the reports by describing what happened in Ramallah as a “play,” calling the move “invalid,” because it did not take into consideration efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.
Musa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas official, said the purported resignations were designed to pave the way for allowing Abbas to have exclusive control over the decision- making process.