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Palestinian National Council meets Monday amid a heap of challenges

By Wissam Abu Zaid

GAZA, April 29 (KUNA) -- The National Council of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinians' broad legislative assembly, is scheduled to meet, for the first time since 2009, on Monday amid a heap of challenges in the face of the Palestinian leadership and people, namely those under occupation.
Tomorrow's session will be held according to a decision, taken by the Palestinian Central Council during its 28th session in the middle of January.
The 740-seat council will meet amid continuing inter-Palestinian divisions, a deadlocked Middle East peace process, and reported Israeli-US "transactions" that might turn out to be at expense of the Palestinian people's interests. On top of the serious issues is Washington's decision to shift its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where the eastern half is aspired by the Palestinians to be capital of their planned independent state.
The meeting had been adjourned several times in the hope the warring mainstream groups, namely Fatah of President Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamic Hamas organization, would manage to tackle their rifts and give a chance to all the factions to participate in it.
List of the challenges warranting some answers from the Palestinians has turned too long. Thousands of Palestinians have been demonstration on weekly basis along the Gaza demarcation line, defying the occupiers at a cost of more than 45 martyrs so far.
All the factions believe that holding the council has become a pending issue and a national necessity to take a unified and solid stand in the face of the challenges, re-activate the Palestinian parliament of the PLO, the Palestinians' sole legitimate representative, and re-affirm solidarity around the leadership.
In this context, observers anticipate that the conferees will declare "important political decisions aimed at paving the way for a serious political phase at the local and international levels in addition to setting the means for dealing the Israeli occupation and settlements' construction." The council chairman, Salim Al-Zaanoun, has invited the factions, associations, unions, representatives of the Palestinians in diaspora to attend the session. However, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have already rebuffed the invitation, in addition to the leftist movement, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), although it is a member of the PLO.
The two Islamist groups have argued that fruitful conciliation must precede rejoining the PLO institutions, demanded the council restructuring and called for popular-level congresses, a move that has enraged President Mahmoud Abbas' camp accusing the Islamists of seeking to create bodies alternative to the legitimate council.
The council drafts the PLO policies and programs, aimed at attaining the people's freedom, independence, affirming their right to self determination and ridding the Palestinians of the Israeli occupation.
The council, which proclaimed establishing the PLO in 1964, has issued a series of resolutions and documents, namely the Palestinian national Charter and the PLO Constituent Law. The first PLO leader, Ahmad Al-Shuqairi, had been elected by the council. (end) wah.rk