Palestinian 'Popular Conference' demands PLO reform, launches actions for general elections
The 'Palestinian Popular Conference,' a coalition of Palestinian political and civil society activists, is planning a series of activities aimed at demanding general Palestinian elections and reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a source close to the coalition told The New Arab on Monday.
The source said that the activities will include meetings and discussions, but also protests in the occupied West Bank and abroad.
According to the source, a special committee has been formed to direct the actions to be announced in a special press conference in Ramallah today, Tuesday.
On Saturday, the conference concluded a series of public meetings organized over two days in several Palestinian cities and in neighbouring countries. The meeting cancelled its meetings in Ramallah following pressure from the Palestinian Authority.
"In total, more than 1500 Palestinians participated in the conference in Palestine and abroad," Omar Assaf, a leading member of the conference, said to TNA on Sunday.
Assaf was detained for several hours on Saturday, in what he called "an intimidation attempt."
"The Ramallah municipality was pressured into not allowing us to hold the meetings on its premises," said Assaf.
"Later during the day the police detained me and took me to a police station in Ramallah, where I was asked not to take part in the conference, but I refused. Eventually, I was released unconditionally after four hours," he added.
✅ Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Conference in the Northern Governorates Omar Assaf in his speech to the #Palestinian Popular Conference_14— Palestine News 24/7 (@PaliNewsBot) November 5, 2022
▪️ He said, "We resolved to hold the
In its final statement, the conference demanded the election of a new Palestinian National Council in general elections, organised across all places where Palestinians can vote.
The Palestinian National Council is the highest legislative body and constituent of the PLO. Its members include representatives of most Palestinian factions, professional unions and civil society organisations and religious minorities.
The council hasn't been elected for more than thirty years and its role has been significantly reduced since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.
"The PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and it's the most sacred thing we have after Palestine and Jerusalem," Mowafaq Matar, a Palestinian National Council member close to the PA, said in press remarks on Sunday.
"The so-called Popular Conference is an attempt to create an alternative to the PLO, which amounts to high treason," added Matar.
"Demanding reform is a basic right of Palestinians," Salman Abu Sitta, a Palestinian historian and member of the preparation committee of the 'Popular Conference', said in press remarks.
"The PLO needs to be reformed through democratic elections," added Abu Sitta.
General elections, including for the Palestinian National Council, were agreed upon by the leaders of all Palestinian factions in September 2021 in Algeria. According to the 'Algerian agreement,' elections to the PNC and to the PA's presidency and legislative council were to be held simultaneously.
In early 2021, Palestinian factions agreed to hold elections for the PA's legislative council first, followed by presidential elections and to postpone elections to the PNC. Legislative elections were scheduled for May 2021.
In April, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas suspended elections, announcing that they will be held only when Israel allows voting posts to be opened in Jerusalem.