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Abbas considers option of dissolving PA and switching power to PLO

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (L) meet with the executive board members of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Ramallah, West Bank on February 13, 2017. ( Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency )
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (L) meet with the executive board members of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Ramallah, West Bank on 13 February 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

President Mahmoud Abbas has been angered in recent weeks by several local and international parties, including the US administration, according to reliable Palestinian sources. The Palestinian leader is currently studying several political and diplomatic options, including asking the UN General Assembly to give the State of Palestine full membership, the anonymous sources told the London-based Al-Hayat.

One option is to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, including the government, the Legislative Council and other institutions. All of the powers and authority would then be restored to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, especially its Executive Committee, which could become the only executive authority.

The PA has also decided to activate the option of going to the International Criminal Court. A delegation from the authority is scheduled to meet Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in The Hague this week.

President Abbas expects the right-wing Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take new steps and measures following the Palestinians' "achievement" in Jerusalem last month. Civil society action by Palestinians prevented the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the installation of electronic gates and cameras.

Read: 24 years of negotiations 'have not achieved anything,' says PA minister

The sources pointed out that Abbas's prime concern is the potential response by Netanyahu to the continued suspension of the PA's security coordination with Israel. At the moment, interaction is restricted to Hussain Al-Sheikh, the Minister of Civil Affairs, member of the Central Committee of the Fatah movement and the person in charge of Palestinian liaison with his Israeli counterpart.

Abbas is angry at the "interference" of the US administration and its rejection of his moves against Hamas and the Gaza Strip, where the ongoing crises affect 2 million Palestinians. The PA has cut employees' salaries, forced thousands into early retirement, made savage cuts to the electricity supply and imposed other measures in an effort to curb Hamas's influence and support. There are now fears of the spread of infectious diseases and epidemics among Palestinians in the besieged territory.

The Palestinian President is expecting to receive a written response to his two conditions for a return to the negotiating table when US President Donald Trump's envoys — his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt — arrive in the region on Thursday. Abbas wants an end to settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and a two-state solution. The US envoys hope to persuade Abbas and Netanyahu to get back to negotiations and look for a peaceful solution to the issue.

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"Abbas is working to hold a meeting of the Palestinian National Council, which resembles the parliament in exile and is the highest Palestinian legislative authority," explained the sources. "This would be in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank before mid-September." They pointed out that the Palestinian leader wants to hold the meeting before heading to New York to participate at the UN General Assembly in late September, where he will deliver a speech.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not members of the PLO and oppose holding the PNC meeting "under the Israeli occupation" in Ramallah. The Popular and Democratic Fronts also oppose holding the meeting in such circumstances, saying that it is a way to "deepen the division." They have demanded a unified session of the PNC to restore national unity and end the split.

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