The Palestinians on Tuesday welcomed as “historic” a decision by the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to grant the PLO’s
parliament-in-exile, the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the status of
“Partner for Democracy.”
The new status, which is reserved for
parliamentarians from countries neighboring the Council of Europe, enables
members of the PNC to speak before the PACE assembly and most of its
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The Palestinians would also be allowed to participate in all
the discussions of the Council of Europe, but would not enjoy voting
The resolution was approved by the assembly with 110 in
favor, five against and 10 abstentions.
According to a statement issued
by PACE, the Palestinians pledged in return to pursue the “values upheld by the
Council of Europe, hold free and fair elections and work toward abolishing the
death penalty, among other commitments.”
The assembly will also monitor
other key issues, such as concluding negotiations for a national unity
government and making the 669-member PNC a democratically- elected
Other issues include refraining from violence, rejecting terrorism,
recognizing Israel’s right to exist and freeing IDF solider Gilad
The assembly will review progress on these issues within two
In May 1964, the PNC met in Jerusalem and adopted the Palestinian
National Charter and established the PLO. The PNC met again in November 1988,
this time in Algiers, and unilaterally declared the independence of a
Two years after the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, the
PNC met in Gaza City and voted to scrap parts of the charter that denied
Israel’s right to exist. However, the charter itself was never
In 1998, the PNC held another meeting in Gaza City, this time in
the presence of former US president Bill Clinton, and reaffirmed the annulment
of those sections denying Israel’s right to exist. Nevertheless, the charter
itself has never been changed or re-drafted.
Presenting the report at
Tuesday’s meeting in Strasbourg, Tiny Kox (Netherlands, UEL) said the status
“created new opportunities for the Palestinian people” and could be seen as part
of the Arab Spring.
In June of this year, the parliament of Morocco
became the first to be granted the new status, which is intended for
parliamentarians from neighboring countries who wish to benefit from the
assembly’s experience of democracy-building and address common
Salim Zanoun, the speaker of the PNC, hailed the decision as
“historic,” saying it constituted a “base for achieving peace in our
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to
address the Council of Europe session on Thursday, Zanoun added.
Salhi, a member of the Palestinian delegation to Strasbourg, said the decision
would “enhance” the PA’s application for full membership of a Palestinian state
in the UN. Salhi also said it reflected growing worldwide support for the rights
of the Palestinians, first and foremost through the establishment of a
Palestinian state on all the territories captured by Israel in 1967.
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