The parliament of the Palestine Liberation Organisation convenes for the first time in decades today, as ageing President Mahmud Abbas seeks to strengthen his hand ahead of the US embassy move to Jerusalem. Analysts said the three-day meeting of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) in the West Bank city of Ramallah is unlikely to produce major policy shifts, but it will elect the 18 members of the PLO’s executive committee that effectively forms Abbas’s cabinet.
More than 100 of the 740-member body will be absent, including dozens allied to Islamists Hamas — the largest Palestinian party behind Abbas’s Fatah — who have signed a letter opposing the meeting. On Saturday Hamas called on Abbas to postpone the assembly until unity was reached between rival factions.
The meeting comes as relations between Abbas and US President Donald Trump’s administration have broken down ahead of the controversial relocation of the US embassy, which is set to open in the divided holy city of Jerusalem on May 14.
In Hamas-run Gaza, more than 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 30. The PNC has not held a regular session since 1996, and last held an special session in 2009.