Palestinians Call First Congress in Two Decades As Major Leadership Change Takes Shape

Palestinians Call First Congress in Two Decades As Major Leadership Change Takes Shape

Palestinian political leaders have chosen September 15th and 16th as the days for their first assembly in nearly two decades after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared his resignation as leader.

The assembly of the Palestine National Council (PNC), a body representing those in the Palestinian areas and abroad, is to be held in Ramallah in the Israeli-controlled West Bank.

Speaking to AFP, senior Palestinian official Azzam al-Ahmad told, “It has been decided to ask the Palestine National Council to convene for a session on the upcoming 15th and 16th September in Ramallah.”

He added, “The council’s agenda includes electing a new executive committee for the (Palestine Liberation Organization).”

Ahmad stated the assembly would also talk about the deadlock in peace talks with Israel, among other topics.

Abbas’ associates say his recent deeds are part of endeavors to introduce new blood in the Palestinian administration.

Opponents, however, think that Abbas is planning to empower his associates and marginalize critics ahead of the 80-year-old’s ultimate retirement.

Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah party, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, remain intensely divided.

Separate, oblique communications are said to have taken place lately between Hamas and Israel on a long-term ceasefire.

Last week Abbas resigned as leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee in an effort to push for new elections for the summit body.

His resignation, along with many others from the 18-member commission, will only succeed with a meeting of the PNC.

Hamas belongs to neither the 740-member PNC, the top legislative body of the Palestinians, which has not met since 1996 nor the PLO.

Some analysts see principal Palestinian representative and Abbas associate Saeb Erekat as a possible heir to the veteran leader.

Before the resignations were declared last week, the executive commission elected Erekat as its secretary general.

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