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Bringing the PFLP back into PLO fold?

Oct. 2, 2010 9:23 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 3, 2010 1:41 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian People’s Party extended its hand on Friday to leaders from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, asking that the faction take part in Saturday's PLO discussions.

As of late Friday, however, PFLP's politburo chief Khalida Jarrar confirmed that the party intended to boycott the meeting, saying the current mechanism for Palestinian decision making was inadequate and unrepresentative, and that the party would not lend it support by participating now.

On Wednesday, the Fatah Central Committee called to order a meeting with PLO faction leaders and the body's Executive Committee to discuss a Palestinian stance on the Israeli decision to refuse calls for a settlement construction freeze.

The PFLP, however, announced that they would boycott the PLO, when peace negotiators failed to walk out of talks upon the re-starting of settlement construction in the West Bank. Negotiators had made clear that new settlement construction would signal an end to talks, and PFLP officials said the issue was evidence that the PLO was operating "under Israeli and US preconditions," and not with the will of the majority of factions.

The faction's secretary-general, Abdul-Rahim Mallouh, said the decision to boycott the PLO meetings "stemmed from the realization of the need to reconsider the performance of PLO institutions and bring more Palestinian political parties under the PLO's umbrella."

In an effort to bring leftist factions around the table on Saturday, PPP Secretary-General Bassam As-Salihi said Friday that contacts had been made with the PFLP and were ongoing.

Moments before the meeting started, member of the PLO’s Executive Committee Hannan Ashrawi told Ma’an that she expected serious and open discussions trying to change Palestinian tactics which she said "allowed Netanyahu to go ahead with his attempts to continue negotiations without halting settlement construction."

The meeting, which will be chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas in his Ramallah headquarters, is expected to endorse the Palestinian position that as long as settlements continue to be constructed on lands expected to be included in a Palestinian state, negotiations cannot continue. As-Salihi said the leftist parties were firmly in accord with the position.

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