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Hamas to boycott Palestine National Council meeting next month

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recites a prayer prior to chairing a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on February 3, 2018. (AFP photo)

The Palestine National Council will hold a rare meeting next month to elect representatives for the powerful Executive Committee although officials from the resistance movement Hamas say they would boycott the event.

Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, said on Wednesday that there was a need for the formation of a completely new National Council as the body in its current formula has failed to be representative of all Palestinians.

“Convening it this way violates the national agreements and it boosts the Palestinian split,” said Radwan.

The Palestine National Council is mainly operating in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, where Israel has no presence, the body has almost no influence and its authority as a national Palestinian entity has repeatedly been challenged by Hamas, which controls Gaza.  

Radwan’s comments came after Ahmad Majdalani, a top Palestinian official, said the Council will convene on April 30 in Ramallah. It would be the first meeting for the chief Palestinian legislative body in nearly a decade.

Other sources said the council would meet with the presence of nearly 700 delegates mainly to discuss political issues and also to elect officials that could fill positions on the 18-member Executive Committee. The vote for leadership roles has become necessary given the presence of aging people on the board who have struggled to properly serve over the past years. One senior member of the Committee died recently while two other suffer from serious health issues.

The make-up of the committee is indicative of which politicians would be eligible to replace current President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. The 82-year-old has suffered from a number of health issues and was even hospitalized in a recent trip to Washington. According to the rules, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who is number two in the Executive Committee, would replace Abbas in case he leaves for any reasons. However, many question Erekat’s health situation and whether he would remain on the job after undergoing a lung transplant.

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