CAIRO – 20 April 2018: Three Palestinian Political factions decided to refrain from attending the upcoming Palestinian National Council (PNC) meeting expected to be held by April 30, especially since President Mahmoud Abbas refused to adjourn the meeting or change its whereabouts which was announced earlier to be in Ramallah city.
The Islamic Jihad Movement, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine all denounced holding the meeting in Ramallah because of the Israeli occupation that has most of the city under its control. Additionally, the three factions refused to obtain permits from Israeli authorities to enter the city, which is an obligatory procedure there.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a statement on Thursday saying that its decision of refraining from attending the meeting came due to the failure of reaching a compromise with Fath movement (led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) regarding the meeting’s whereabouts and timing.
The statement mentioned that the deliberations between the Popular Front for the Liberation and Fath were ‘responsible’. It stated that both factions shared similar views in several political issues. Both of the factions agreed that the Palestine Liberation Organization has to remain as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, however they disagreed about other points.
The Popular Front for the Liberation stated in its Thursday statement that the continued division between Palestinian factions should come to an end; however, as a result of failing to reach an accepted compromise with Fath during the talks regarding adjourning the PNC session’s timing or whereabouts, they will not be attending the meeting.
Hamas, which announced earlier that it will not be attending the meeting as well, described the Popular Front for the Liberation’s decision as ‘important and strategic’.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas member, said in statements to media outlets that the Liberation’s decision is the ‘right response’ for Fath’s ‘singular’ political stance and its dominance over decision-making.
All three political factions called earlier in official statements for adjourning the PNC meeting and holding another National Unification Council meeting instead. This demanded council-meeting, according to the three factions’ statements, would be using the positive impact of the on-going Palestinian demonstrations in Gaza to reach a reconciliation between factions. The National Unification Council’s meeting also was aiming to reach a firm response to the American administration led by President Donald Trump regarding their latest steps against Jerusalem. However, with the adjourning suggestion turned down by Fath authority (led by Abbas), all of the three factions decided to boycott the Ramallah PNC meeting.
The PNC meeting anticipated on April 30 was supposed to be held for the purpose of electing a new president for the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is currently led by Abbas. The last time PNC was held was in 1996 on a regular meeting, and then in 2009 on an exceptional session.
PNC includes more than 750 members from all of the Palestinian political factions. About 22 sessions were held for the council since its establishment on 1964.
The Palestinian political scene seems to be on edge especially after the tension that rose again between historical rivals Fath and Hamas despite the Egyptian-mediated reconciliation that was signed in Cairo last October. Many factors pressured the reconciliation, including the failed assassination attempt that targeted Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his General Intelligence Chief Maged Farag on March 13.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is a Palestinian organization founded in 1964 and is currently recognized as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people by over 100 states across the world with which it holds diplomatic relations. The PLO was considered by the United States and Israel as a terrorist organization until the Madrid Conference in 1991. In 1993, the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist in peace, accepted UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and rejected "violence and terrorism". In response, Israel officially recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. The PLO is an umbrella organization, comprised of numerous organizations of the resistance movement, political parties, popular organizations, and independent personalities and figures from all sectors of life.
PLC - Photo by Magister via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0.
Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)
The Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) was created as part of the Oslo Accords as the legislative branch of the Palestinian Authority and is meant to represent Palestinians residing in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The PLC approves the PA’s budget, and can pass motions of no confidence against the Palestinian Authority government.
The PLC comprises 132 seats, based on a mixed electoral system by which 50 percent of seats are elected through the majority system (districts) and the other 50 percent of seats are elected through the proportional representation system (lists). Legislative elections have been held twice: in 1996 (won by Fatah) and 2006 (won by Hamas).
The current distribution of PLC seats is: Hamas “Change and Reform Bloc” (74); Fatah (45); PFLP (3); PNI (2); Third Way (2); DFLP (1); PPP (1); Independents (4). The current PLC’s mandate expired in 2010. The PLC has not met in a regular session since the 2007 West Bank-Gaza split.
Structure of the Palestine Liberation Organization:
- Palestine National Council (PNC)
The PNC represents the supreme authority of the Palestinian people in all their places of residence. The first national conference was held in Jerusalem on May 24 - June 2, 1964. This first National Council had 422 members, declared the establishment of the PLO, which represents the leadership of the Palestinian Arab people. The most important of which is the Palestinian National Charter, the Statutes of the Organization and others, and Ahmad Al-Shukairy was elected then chairman of the PLO.
The PNC normally sets PLO policies, elects the Executive Committee and makes the necessary changes in its own membership, as well as changes to the Palestine National Charter (a special meeting is required) and to the Fundamental Law of the organization. The composition of the PNC represents all sectors of the Palestinian community worldwide and includes numerous organizations of the resistance movement, political parties, popular organizations (each of the above is represented by specific quotas) and independent personalities and figures from all sectors of life, including intellectuals, religious leaders and businessmen.
President Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the Palestinian Central Council - Reuters
- Palestinian Central Council (PCC)
The Palestinian Central Council (PCC), established by the PNC in 1973, is second leading body of the PLO. The PCC makes policy decisions when the Palestinian National Council (PNC) is not in session. The PCC is acting as a link between the PNC and the PLO Executive Committee. The PCC is elected by the PNC after nomination by the PLO Executive, and chaired by the PNC president. At present, the membership stands at 124, including 15 representatives of the PLC.
- Executive Committee
The Executive Committee (PLO EC) is the highest executive body of the PLO, and the government of Palestine. Its main function is to execute the policies and decisions set out by the PNC and the Central Council. The Committee is also responsible for adopting a budget and for overseeing the functioning of the departments of the PLO. Its membership stands at 18, including its Chairman. The PLO EC has been chaired by Mahmoud Abbas since November 2004.