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PNC chair confirms controversial session postponed

Sept. 9, 2015 12:52 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 7, 2015 2:46 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The chair of the Palestinian National Council confirmed Wednesday that the council's first session in nearly 20 years has been postponed.

Salim Zanoun, the PNC chairman, said that senior Palestinian officials would meet to prepare for the session to take place within three months.

Zanoun made the announcement at a press conference in the PNC's Ramallah office, with members of the PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Committee in attendance.

He said that promoting the future session would "take time," and that it was important to "give space to other Palestinian factions to participate in this large responsibility."

He said that a committee consisting of himself, members of the PLO Executive Committee, and the secretary-generals of Palestinian political factions would meet to discuss the session.

The PNC session, originally set for Sept. 14-15, has been a fiercely divisive issue among Palestinian leaders.

The PNC -- the PLO's legislative body -- was planning to convene to elect a new PLO Executive Committee after 11 of the committee's members, including President Mahmoud Abbas, announced their resignation in August.

Many Palestinian factions condemned the plans, arguing that changes to the national institution were being carried out unilaterally by Fatah.

Critics said that Abbas was maneuvering to empower his allies and marginalize opponents ahead of the 80-year-old's eventual retirement.

Several factions in the Gaza Strip called for a boycott of the meeting, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The PLO Executive Committee members who announced their resignation last month will continue to hold their positions until the PNC meets.

The last time the PNC held PLO Executive Committee elections was in 1996 at a session in the Gaza Strip.
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