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29
Oct
2018

PLO Council Meeting in Ramallah – to Be or Not to Be


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed a rare meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Central Council on October 28, 2018, in Ramallah. While we were expecting to hear the steps that Abbas planned to take against Hamas, Israel, and the United States, he launched his speech criticizing the delegates who chose not to participate in the session. He complained that one-third did not show up.

Hamas’ perception of the PLO’s session:

Hamas caricature

Hamas caricature: Abbas knocks on the Central Committee’s door. “Abbas seeks to dissolve the Palestinian National Council [parliament] and call for new elections.

We called sources in Ramallah the morning after and they told us that the “Fronts” [primarily the PFLP and PDFLP] and the Mohammed Dahlan faction of the PLO did not arrive. But Abbas was talking about something deeper – that delegates preferred to go to “cafés” instead in taking part in this “fateful” session. He declared, “We are at a point of to be or not to be. We are besieged from all directions.”

According to our sources, on the morning after (October 29, 2018) there was to be a closed-door session at which Abbas would reveal his cards. The sources believe Abbas is determined to take back Gaza from Hamas completely and will not let paymaster and Hamas-supporter, Qatar, bypass him. According to my sources’ assessment, however, there is little chance that Qatar would listen to him.

As for the steps against Israel, such as canceling the Paris Protocol of the Oslo II Accord of September 1995, my sources estimated that it would be very difficult to carry out. As for the canceling coordination with the IDF – it is not on the table.

Another issue on the table is a formal dissolution of the PLC – the Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislative body of the Palestinian Authority that is under the control of Hamas. As a matter of fact, as far as Ramallah is concerned, this body has already finished its life. It has not convened since Hamas captured Gaza, and Fatah “rogue” delegates are arrested despite the fact that they are immune from arrest.

Abbas seeks to terminate the council formally to avoid legal claims by Hamas’ “speaker,” Aziz Dweik, that he is the rightful successor to Mahmoud Abbas in an interim period. Fatah will not let that happen at all costs.

The very convening of the PLO’s appointed legislative council was meant to overshadow the elected, Hamas-controlled Parliament and, in a way, represented another step toward canceling the Oslo agreements.

To conclude, Mahmoud Abbas’ speech gives the impression that we are now witnessing the swan song of the PLO. In his words: “It is to be or not to be.”

The PA president was dismayed by the delegates preferring the coffee-shops. He touched on the point of growing indifference to the PLO and what it represents for the Palestinians.

About Pinhas Inbari

Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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