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Palestinian factions welcome postponement of PNC session

Sept. 9, 2015 3:30 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 9, 2015 10:27 P.M.)
Salim Zanoun announced the postponement at a press conference in the PNC's Ramallah office, with members of the PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Committee in attendance. (MaanImages)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian factions on Wednesday welcomed a decision to postpone a controversial session of the Palestinian National Council after the head of the council formally announced the delay.

Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesman for the Hamas movement, welcomed the decision, saying that it was important a meeting now be held to discuss reformation of all the PLO's institutions, in particular the PNC.

Earlier Wednesday, PNC chairman Salim Zanoun formally announced the postponement, saying that it was important to "give space to other Palestinian factions to participate in this large responsibility."

In the attendance of senior PLO and Fatah officials, he said that a PLO leadership committee consisting of himself, members of the PLO Executive Committee, and secretary-generals of Palestinian political factions would now arrange to meet to discuss the next move.

Islamic Jihad said that the decision to postpone the meeting was a "successful" step that reflected the national consensus.

The movement's leader, Khalid al-Batsh, called on President Mahmoud Abbas to hold a meeting that would see the participation of all Palestinian factions.

Batsh said he hoped Abbas, who is currently in Cairo, would arrange with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to allow the meeting to be held in the Egyptian capital.

Saleh Zeidan, a PNC member representing the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also welcomed the decision to postpone, saying in a statement that it was the "right step."

He too called for a meeting of the PLO's leadership, in particular to end the "destructive division" in Palestinian politics and to form a new national consensus government.

Zeidan also called on the PLO leadership to organize comprehensive Palestinian elections within a specific time frame, including elections to the PNC, the PLO Executive Committee, the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian social committees.

The head of the Palestinian People’s Party hailed the postponement, saying that it represented the will of most Palestinian powers and factions.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mlladenov, said in that the decision "shows leadership and wisdom in giving adequate time for consultation with all factions in preparation of a regular session, which should strengthen unity and chart the way forward."

He urged Palestinian leaders to "seize this opportunity" to strengthen the PLO "as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."

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

However, many Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, condemned the plans and called for a boycott of the PNC session.

They said that changes to the PLO were being carried out unilaterally by Fatah, arguing that Abbas was maneuvering to empower his allies and marginalize opponents ahead of the 80-year-old's eventual retirement.

The PNC session would have been the first in nearly 20 years, after it last convened in 1996 in Gaza City.
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