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To Where with the Old National Council?
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
March 15, 2018

Since the end of the work of the Palestinian Central Council on January 1, 2018, some people loyal to the President of the Palestinian Authority, and close to him, have begun talking about a call in the near future for the convention of the old National Council, in its current form. Then, the “predictions” have been proposal in determining the time of the Council’s convention, then to come out statements, saying that the fifth of May, is the date, approved for the meeting and that the meeting must be held before the month of Ramadan.

These statements have been issued unilaterally, while the Supreme Committee, which is concerned with introducing the proposals, mechanisms and procedures to implement the decisions of the Central Council, is still holding its meetings at different times, while the government of the PA has not yet discussed what the Executive Committee has assigned to it; namely, the development of appropriate mechanisms for the implementation of the Council's decisions in fields relevant to the government and its decisions.

The talk about a meeting for the old National Council comes in the exact opposite of the previous developments and facts.

• The Preparatory Committee, chaired by the Council's President Salim Zanoun, which was held in Beirut in January 2017, recommended the end of the division, and called on President Abbas to hold consultations to form a government of national unity includes "all", and the Preparatory Committee to continue its work, to reach elections for a new national council, in Jerusalem, the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and abroad, includes everyone without exception. The meetings of the Preparatory Committee were supposed to continue, but the Palestinian official leadership sentenced it to death, ignored its results, and ended it by a single decision, in a flagrant challenge to the national consensus that was clarified in Beirut under the chairmanship of Salim al-Zaanoun, the president of the National Council.

• The National Dialogue session held in Cairo on 22 November 2017, to ratify the reconciliation agreement, also reaffirmed the need for the Preparatory Committee to resume its work to elect a new National Council after the current Council has become old, which the last of its meetings was in 1996. This call was ignored by the official leadership, and it included the signing of all Palestinian factions without exception, and constituted an important occasion to rebuild the national unity in the unified national institution.

• The third station (since the beginning of 2017) were the decisions of the Central Council in its last session (January 15, 2018), reaffirming the decisions of the March 5, 2015 session in particular the election of a new national council at home and abroad, under the law of proportional representation. The decisions of the Central Council at its last session are still addressed as the decisions of the March 5, 2015 session. Some of them were referred to a "Supreme Political Committee" and others to the Palestinian Authority government. Consequently, these decisions are still a dead letter. The loyalists to the official leadership and those close to it have not remembered all that happened in the Central Council, except to call the old National Council for an urgent meeting that its date has been set on May 5, 2018.

Sources of the "Supreme Political Committee", assigned from the Executive Committee to put proposals and procedures, to implement the decisions of the Central Council say the following:

• There is no "committee" in the true sense of the term. There are names that are supposed to form the committee (embers of the Executive Committee, members of Fatah Central Committee, and ministers in the PA government), and some attend a meeting, absent from another, and some attend a part of a meeting and then go, leaving others to complete the discussion, the third part of the Committee haven’t attended even for once. This indicates that the Committee is not serious and that its recommendations and decisions are not valuable, knowing that it is a committee, formed to pass time and underestimate the decisions of the Central Council. If the official leadership were serious, it would have been possible to implement more than one decision, as a matter of the powers of the Executive Committee, and studies on that have been ready for quite some time, and there is no need to waste more time at the expense of the national interest.

Information from the “Supreme Committee”, that it has been divided on the call for a new session for the National Council.

• Some have seen this call as a golden opportunity to rebuild the national unity in the face of American and Israeli policies, especially since Trump is in the process of executing his decision about Jerusalem, and Netanyahu is also in the process of continuing the annexation, Judaization and expansion of settlement. In this context, “the PLO's activation and development body” is called for an immediate meeting attended by all Palestinian factions, as well as the concerned national figures, in addition to the Executive Committee and its Chairman, and the President of the Palestinian National Council, to make the appropriate national political decision. The decision of national consensus, where the station of the National Council to be an opportunity to re-elect a new council, as decided by the preparatory committees, held in Beirut, Cairo and Amman, to rebuild the Palestinian national situation on new basis; a liberation movement, its program is struggling in the field and the internationalization of the national cause and rights according to the decisions of the Central Council and the National Accord Document (2006) and the November 22, 2017 meeting in Cairo.

• Others were clear: Now, it is not the time for electing a new National Council. There is no place for Hamas in the PLO, before resolving the reconciliation files in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the official Palestinian leadership is determined, to convene the Council as soon as possible (weeks) for the restructuring of the Executive Committee. And this meets with the leaked information, about the members of the Executive Committee that the President of the PA wishes to remove them, and replace them with others, whom their names have been ready, based on the composition of the National Council (640 members), where the numerical majority is guaranteed for the President of the PA, although this majority neither reflects the "Political quorum" nor the conditions of national consensus, just as was done in the 1996 Council, which was held under the roof of the Oslo Accords.


• Decisions of the Central Council in its last two sessions (5/3/2015 and 15/1/2018) are set aside on shelf until further notice, on the pretext that they have been referred to committees to study them, that they have not yet studied them, and even if they study them , their suggestions will go back to shelf.

• The political discourse of the PA and its president is the speech in the Security Council, on February 20, 2018, in which there is a miserable return to the Oslo Accords and negotiations of the permanent solution under Oslo, but with an open maneuver, calling for the patronage of an "international team" for negotiations, instead of the American sponsor, without touching the mechanisms and bases of negotiations and their reference; namely, Oslo N° 2.

• Israeli welcome for returning to negotiations; and US hints that the formation of the "international team" of negotiations could be discussed at the right moment, with the process of achieving the decisions on Jerusalem (the capital of Israel), settlement (not hindering negotiations and no need to stop it), and the right of return (cancelling it, the dissolution of UNRWA, and alternative solutions to it).

• European calls for not rushing to cut ties with the United States (so they have been cut with Kouchner and Greenblatt, but not with the US intelligence service and the US National Security Council).

• A workshop of arrangements within the Fatah movement, in light of the complexity of completing the reconciliation agreement, and the return of relations between (Hamas and Dahlan).

• In this atmosphere, there is the call for the election of an (old) national council without prior consultation with the Palestinian forces and with prior assurances about the exclusion of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements.


Why this Council?
To rebuild the Palestinian home land within a unified comprehensive framework?

Or to deepen the political divisions and devote the policy of marginalization of institutions, and to devote the power of exclusivity, as it is only one concerned, not only with the formulation of the political decision, but also with the dismantling of national institutions.

Moatasem Hamadeh is a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by: Rasha Abo Allan
Revised by: Ibrahim Motlaq

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