The Palestinian National Council, which is the Parliament of the PLO, convened in Ramallah on May 1, 2018, for the first time in 22 years. The meeting’s declared purpose was to reestablish the legitimacy of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. However, big question marks remain over this aspiration.
PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas once again expressed anti-Semitic themes in his speech, but even his statements regarding the Palestinians raised many eyebrows.
Sources among the participants of the gathering reported that Abbas’ speech was surprising because instead of mentioning Yasser Arafat as the source of inspiration and authority for the PLO, he emphasized the roles of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, and Ahmad al-Shukeiri, founder of the PLO in the years when Fatah was not part of the organization.
When talking about the PLO’s past struggles, Abbas omitted to mention the part of Abu Jihad, the founder of the PLO’s fighting doctrine.
In the corridors, the discussions on the main issues bothering the representatives focused on the collapse of the PLO’s importance, the Palestinian problem in the face of events in the Arab world, and concern over the position of Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Some of the representatives reported that the opening of the meeting was delayed several hours because not all of the guests who were invited had arrived at the hall. However, the delay led to conjecture over the health of Mahmoud Abbas.
In the end, the PNC meeting opened at precisely the same time Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed the Iranian archives to the world. For this reason, the Arab TV stations, including Al-Jazeera, preferred to broadcast from Tel Aviv instead of Ramallah that evening.