PLO parliament to convene in rare meeting next month

The parliament, which boasts 700 members, last met in 2009.

March 7, 2018 18:40
1 minute read.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraord

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey. (photo credit: REUTERS/OSMAN ORSAL)

The Palestine Liberation Organization parliament will hold a rare meeting next month in Ramallah to elect new members to two top PLO bodies, a Palestinian official said on Wednesday.

The 700-member body last convened in 2009 in an “emergency session” to replace six members of the PLO Executive Committee.

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“The PLO Executive Committee decided earlier today that the Palestinian National Council will meet on April 30 to elect a new Palestinian Central Council and Executive Committee,” Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousif told The Jerusalem Post.

The Central Council is the second- highest PLO decision-making body, and the Executive Committee is responsible for meeting regularly and implementing the PLO’s policies.

Abu Yousif said the National Council will be tasked with developing “a mutually agreed-upon political program to confront [US President Donald] Trump’s decisions on Jerusalem and protect Palestinian rights.”

In early December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy to the city, breaking with decades of American policy and infuriating many Palestinians.

Abu Yousif said the PLO parliament meeting will be held as a “regular session.”

The National Council last convened a regular session in 1996 in the Gaza Strip. During that meeting, the body removed language calling for Israel’s destruction from the PLO Charter.

Later on Wednesday, Hamas called on the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership to rescind its decision to hold the National Council meeting.

“Any decisions made in this meeting will not be binding or representative of the Palestinian people,” Hamas said in a statement.

“Hamas calls on leaders in the PLO, the Palestinian Authority and Fatah to immediately rescind this one-sided step.”

Hamas has long called for the PLO to be expanded to include it as a member with substantial representation before holding a National Council election.

According to Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Khatib, in past talks with PLO leaders, Hamas demanded that reforms include it gaining 50% of the seats in PLO institutions.

“Hamas is not happy because the National Council meeting is going to happen without reforms to the PLO,” he told the Post in a phone call.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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