Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks with Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (unseen) as they review the honor guard in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to convene the PLO’s parliament- in-exile, the Palestinian National Council, suffered a major setback on Wednesday when it was announced that the session would be delayed for at least three months.
The PNC was originally scheduled to convene in Ramallah on September 14 and 15 to elect new members of the PLO Executive Committee and discuss relations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Abbas called the meeting in a bid to get rid of some of his political opponents in the PLO. Some reports claimed that Abbas was also planning to announce his resignation as chairman of the PLO Executive Committee during the session.
PNC Speaker Salim Zanoun announced the decision to postpone the session during a press conference in Ramallah.
He said that consultations were under way to set a date for a new session within three months.
Zanoun said that 14 members of the PLO executive sent him a petition asking that the PNC meeting be delayed. The members said they needed additional time to prepare for the meeting, he said.
Zanoun said that several Palestinian factions and public figures also demanded that postponement of the controversial PNC parley.
Referring to the recent resignations of PLO Executive Committee members, including Abbas, Zanoun said that they were “void.” He said that the purported resignations were just promises to quit and were no longer relevant. The Executive Committee members will remain in their jobs until the next PNC session, he explained.
Hamas, which had called for boycotting the PNC session, welcomed the decision to delay the meeting. “Hamas welcomes the announcement to delay the PNC meeting at the request of Palestinian factions and personalities,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
Abu Zuhri said that any PNC session should be preceded by a meeting of Palestinian factions to reach agreement on the “reorganization” of PLO institutions and other issues such as the crisis surrounding the current Palestinian “national consensus” government and the dispute between Hamas and Fatah.
Islamic Jihad also welcomed the decision. He too called for a meeting of Palestinian faction leaders to discuss “reorganizing” the PLO and other Palestinian institutions.
Former PLO secretary-general Yasser Abed Rabbo, who was recently dismissed from his job after falling out with Abbas, expressed satisfaction over the decision to delay the PNC session. Abed Rabbo called for “national dialogue” among all Palestinian factions to reach agreement over a new Palestinian strategy.