Talk of PLO restructuring emerges ahead of top Palestinian council meeting

On the eve of the first general meeting of the Palestinian National Council in 22 years, the PLO is set to downsize dramatically. The PNC will convene in Ramallah April 30, and Al-Monitor has learned from PLO sources that as many as 600 of the body's staff members will be asked to take early retirement in the coming months.
PLO Executive Committee members Hanna Amireh and Assad Abdel Rahman have confirmed the restructuring plan. The main objective is reducing many of the PLO departments for which there are active ministries in the Palestinian government. Amireh told the Jordanian news site AmmanNet April 20 that the PLO’s departments of social affairs, youth, Jerusalem, education, diaspora affairs and military will be closed. The departments of refugees, planning, culture, media and the national fund will remain.

“When the PLO was responsible for all Palestinian affairs, this made sense, but now we have a government with relevant ministries and it doesn’t make sense to have such duplication,” Amireh, a leader with the People's Party, was quoted as saying by the Saudi Arab News April 22.
Traditionally, the PLO’s Executive Committee has acted as the Palestinian national leadership, with every member acting as a minister running a department with staff and budgets. “Executive Committee members will still have an office, one staff person, a secretary and a driver,” a PLO source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.
Abdel Rahman, an independent member, confirmed to Al-Monitor that there is no need for so many staffers in the PLO when these areas are being addressed by the Palestinian government. “This move makes sense and helps save money and focus our budget,” he said.
While on the surface the decision appears to have been for economic reasons, there is clearly a much more important political message behind it that reflects the relationship between the PLO and the Ramallah-based government.
The Palestinian Authority was established when then-PLO Secretary Mahmoud Abbas signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Israel in September 1993. While the Palestinian Authority was established under the legal and political umbrella of the PLO it has grown to become much more important since.
Both Yasser Arafat and Abbas have led the two organizations at the same time with the dual title of Executive Committee chairman and PA president.
In addition to cutting down on PLO staff, the Ramallah-based leadership wants to reduce the number of delegates to the PNC. According to Al-Monitor's sources in the PLO, discussions are focusing on the need to cut the PNC membership in half from the current bloated number of delegates at 700.
The downsizing move comes at a time some analysts had expected Palestinians to revitalize the PLO amid the faltering peace process and the lack of Palestinian trust in the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas, who had threatened in 2012 to “throw in the keys” of the Palestinian government if the peace process didn't produce change, realized that Israel did not take his threat seriously. Reversing course, Abbas is now repeating that the Palestinian government “is a great achievement for the Palestinian people which we will not give up on.”
PNC member Hamadeh Faraneh told Al-Monitor that closing the PLO departments will weaken the body and not bring about the desired restructuring. “If the leadership were interested, it would have followed the recommendations of the preparatory committee that met Jan. 15, 2017, in Beirut with the express aim of determining how to improve the workings of the PLO,” Faraneh told Al-Monitor. “That meeting was attended by 13 Palestinian factions including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others.”
Faraneh, a Jordan-based Palestinian author and political activist, expects that while Abbas needs the PNC to convene to strengthen his legitimacy as the leader of the Palestinian people, he will also use it to centralize power for himself and for his Fatah movement. “Don’t be surprised if Abbas is voted on unanimously in the opening session of the upcoming PNC in the same way that he was [proclaimed] leader of Fatah when it convened its seventh congress in Ramallah in 2016,” he said.
The move to downsize the PLO will have a direct effect on a number of small factions that have no real public backing. Abbas is clearly aiming to get rid of some dead weight in the organization, targeting PLO factions that have used the organization to get budget appropriations and jobs for their cadres.
But the big question is whether the expected downsizing and PNC meeting will further alienate the majority of Palestinians who live outside of Palestine or find a way to energize them.

Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist, a media activist and a columnist for Palestine Pulse. He is a former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and is currently director-general of Community Media Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. On Twitter: @daoudkuttab


Meeting of top Palestinian decision-making body faces more boycotts

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the second largest faction of the PLO, will boycott the upcoming meeting of the Palestinian National Council to protest Fatah's refusal to hold the gathering in a neutral location where all factions can attend.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the second-largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has decided to boycott the upcoming meeting of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), scheduled to be held April 30 in Ramallah.
Zulfiqar Sawirjo, a PFLP leader, told Al-Monitor, “Our position is clear. The PNC should convene outside the country so that all factions can attend the meeting. Holding a PNC session in Ramallah under the Israeli occupation prevents many faction leaders from attending such a meeting. We will boycott the PNC but remain part of the PLO, which serves as a reference for the Palestinian people.”
Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in Gaza or outside Palestine cannot travel to Ramallah because Israel will not allow them to enter the West Bank. The PFLP's decision to boycott came after two days of talks, April 17-18, between representatives from that group and the Fatah movement in Cairo, during which the PFLP called for the postponement of the PNC meeting until a consensus formula could be reached that would allow members of Hamas to attend. The two parties failed to reach such a consensus, and Fatah refused to postpone the meeting.
Sawirjo further remarked, “Fatah did not abide by the outcome of the PNC Preparatory Committee meeting, which was held in Beirut on Jan. 10, 2017, between the PLO factions, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement. They agreed on the need for the PNC meetings to include all the Palestinian forces in a bid to restore the stature of the divided Palestinian political system. Fatah, however, insisted on holding the meeting in Ramallah.”
The PFLP said April 19 in a statement on its official website, “As the two delegations failed to reach an agreement regarding the postponement of the PNC session, the PFLP decided not to take part in the session and confirmed its position on the PLO and highlighted the importance of its role, stature and representative character. [The PFLP] also stressed its ongoing sincere efforts to have a unifying PNC.”
The PNC, established in 1948, has met only 23 times, the last being in August 2009 in Ramallah. In accordance with Article 18 of the council's bylaws, the council is supposed to meet once a year, but the political situation has made it difficult to convene all its members, some of whom reside inside the Palestinian territories and others who live elsewhere. The PNC, the highest authority in the PLO, is in charge of policy and planning, and it also tracks the performance of the PLO Executive Committee.
Azzam al-Ahmad, the Fatah Central Committee member responsible for the Palestinian reconciliation dossier, said April 19 on Al-Ghad TV that Fatah insists on convening the PNC in a timely manner despite the PFLP’s decision to boycott. “The PNC will convene at 6:30 p.m. April 30, regardless of who agrees or disagrees,” Ahmad said.
Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority President and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, dominates the PNC, so it ultimately has the final say in PLO decisions in general, including those related to convening the PNC. The PNC consists of representatives from 14 factions; Fatah is represented by 49 PNC members, while the PFLP has 21, out of 691 total. Despite its seemingly low membership total, Fatah nevertheless has overall control of the PNC and of the funds granted to the organization's factions.
Reaching a quorum requires two-thirds of PNC members to be in attendance. Mohammed Ashtayeh, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, told the newspaper Donia al-Watan newspaper April 19, “The PFLP’s boycott will not affect the quorum, but it will certainly have political resonance.” He also said, “We deeply regret the PFLP’s decision not to participate in the PNC session. In 1984, the PFLP decided not to take part in a PNC session, but it eventually backed down from its decision.”
Taking further issue with Fatah, the PFLP's Sawirjo complained that Fatah had appointed new PNC members in violation of council rules. Fatah had apparently taken the initiative to appoint new representatives to replace 82 deceased members without consulting the council and has called on them to attend the Ramallah meeting.
Hassan Abu Shemalah, a legal expert at the Centre for Regional Studies – Palestine, told Al-Monitor, “It was difficult to get two-thirds of the PNC members to attend the meeting in Ramallah and obtain a quorum. This is why the PLO leadership sought to appoint new members in a way that was contrary to the mechanism of appointment of members stipulated in Article 32 of the PLO’s bylaws. This article stipulates that appointments should be made for the purpose of deepening national unity and as required by the battle of liberation.”
According to the PFLP, Fatah's actions surrounding the PNC do not serve to deepen unity but to deepen the current Palestinian political division, represented by the estrangement between Hamas and Fatah. With the PFLP's stance on the PNC meeting, it will now likely suffer at the hands of Fatah, because of the latter's dominance of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority.
Sawirjo said, “In light of the decision to boycott the PNC, the Palestinian presidency will work on imposing political restrictions and maintaining the existing financial restrictions, and it is expected to prevent the movement of some of our members in several countries. But financial and political extortion will not lead us to back down from the unified national position that we took.”
Abbas withheld financial allocations for the PFLP in December 2010, April 2016, April 2017 and January 2018 as a result of the PFLP's adoption of positions contrary to those of Abbas. The PLO factions receive monthly installments from the Palestinian National Fund according to their size, based on the number of members.
In a statement released April 19, Hamas voiced its support for the PFLP’s refusal to attend the PNC session in the absence of a consensus. It opposed the “hegemony of the Palestinian decision” and called on the various factions as well as civil institutions to take a similar position and refuse to participate in the PNC session.
Akram Atallah, a writer and political analyst with the newspaper Al-Ayyam, told Al-Monitor, “The PLO was founded based on consensus between several factions. In other words, holding a session without the PFLP, which is the second-largest faction in the PLO, and failing to meet its conditions will affect the national character of the PLO and would not be reflective of the Palestinian will.”
Along with Hamas, the PFLP and Islamic Jihad, three independent PNC members have announced that they will not attend the Ramallah meeting because of the lack of consensus to bring all the factions together and because Israel's occupation prohibits it.
At the meeting, Abbas is expected to put forward proposals allowing the PLO Central Council to take legislative and legal decisions in lieu of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), which has not met in full since the Fatah-Hamas split in 2007. In this regard, PLO Executive Committee member Hanna Omair told the official Voice of Palestine on April 17, “The most prominent issue is how to strengthen the role of the PLO in the Palestinian political and legislative arena.”

Moath al-Amoudi is a Palestinian writer who has been working as a journalist for eight years, specializing in public issues. He holds a master's degree from the Islamic University and has worked for several Palestinian and foreign media outlets. He helped conduct research for the book “The Palestinian Prisoners,” which has been published in several languages.


Comunicado del Foro Palestina Libre de Zaragoza, 2 abril 2018

Según la Resolución 260 de 9 diciembre de 1948 (Convención para la Prevención y Sanción del Delito de Genocidio), “se entiende por genocidio cualquiera de los actos mencionados a continuación, perpetrados con la intención de destruir, total o parcialmente, a un grupo nacional, étnico, racial o religioso”: “matanza de miembros del grupo”; “lesión grave a la integridad física o mental de los miembros del grupo”; “sometimiento intencional del grupo a condiciones de existencia que hayan de acarrear su destrucción física, total o parcial”; “medidas destinadas a impedir los nacimientos en el seno de un grupo”; “traslado por la fuerza de niños del grupo”.
Omar Abu Samour
Mahmoud Abu
Muammar Mohammed Najjar
Mohammed Abu Omar
Ahmad Oudeh
Jihad Freneh
Mahmoud Rahmi
Jihad AbuJamous
Abdelfattah Abdenabbi
Ibrahim Abu Shar
Abdelqader alHawajri
Sari Abu Odeh
Hamdan Abu Amsheh
Bader Sabbagh
Naji Abu Hjair
Mosab Saloul
Estos son los nombres de los jóvenes asesinados el pasado vienes 30 de marzo por francotiradores y drones del ejército sionista de ocupación, en campo abierto, muchos de ellos por la espalda, todos desarmados, dentro de los límites de esa cárcel a cielo abierto llamada Franja de Gaza. 

La Gran Marcha del Retorno, que comenzó el Día de la Tierra y acabará el 15 de mayo con la conmemoración de la Nakba, es una movilización popular convocada por el conjunto de organizaciones palestinas (políticas y sociales) para exigir el cumplimiento de la Resolución 194 de NNUU, que reconoce a todas las personas expulsadas por la ocupación el derecho inviolable, irrenunciable, intransferible, innegociable e imprescriptible de volver a sus hogares. La convocatoria abarca Gaza, Cisjordania, Jerusalén Este, los territorios ocupados desde 1948 y la población refugiada en Jordania, Siria y Líbano, donde millones de palestinos expulsados viven en el exilio desde 1948.
La convocatoria es muy clara: “Estamos hartos de esperar y vamos a retornar ya. No llevaremos armas y no tiraremos piedras. Solo habrá banderas palestinas y pancartas con el texto de la Resolución 194, que garantiza el derecho al retorno de los refugiados a sus casas de las que fueron expulsados por la fuerza en 1948”.
Desde el primer momento, la única respuesta recibida fue la única que sabe dar quien lleva siete décadas torturando, robando y asesinando. El propio ejército israelí declaró al día siguiente: “Ayer nos encontramos ante unas 30.000 personas. Llegamos preparados y con los refuerzos necesarios. Todo se ejecutó bajo control. Todo fue adecuado y medido, y sabemos dónde cayó cada bala”.
No se puede ser más sincero y más mentiroso a la vez. No se puede ser más criminal y más ruin. Israel lleva 70 años utilizando las mismas mentiras con el apoyo incondicional de sus socios y cómplices, entre ellos el Estado español, cuyos gobernantes de todos los colores muestran su “apoyo incondicional” y algunos, en su papel de perros fieles, llegan a hablar del “estado judío” como si semejante expresión no fuese una muestra intolerable de fundamentalismo racista. Y cuando asoma una tímida crítica porque no queda más remedio, y ese chiringuito llamado Comunidad Internacional pide una “investigación”, lo hace para disimular, fingiendo preocupación, sin la menor intención de parar los crímenes del estado sionista. Montañas de informes, promesas, declaraciones… ¿para qué? Después del centenar de violaciones del derecho internacional, crímenes de guerra y resoluciones incumplidas por el estado de Israel, todo está clarísimo: llevamos décadas asistiendo, en vivo y en directo, a un genocidio que no se para con teatrillos sobre negociaciones de paz ni con mentiras sobre la solución de los dos estados. Se para con memoria, verdad, justicia, reconocimiento y reparación.
El Pueblo Palestino no “muere” como si cayera un meteorito sobre las cabezas de su gente. Señores y señoras mercenarias de la comunicación, señores y señoras traficantes de información, Palestina se muere asesinada. Cuando un francotirador mata a una persona por la espalda, lo asesina. Eso no es un “choque” ni una “confrontación”, se llama asesinato. Basta ya de vender “conflicto entre dos partes” para camuflar el asesinato sistemático de civiles en la ocupación militar más larga y sangrienta del último siglo. Solo un bando ha disparado TODAS las balas, TODOS los proyectiles de mortero, TODOS los botes de gas lacrimógeno. Solo un bando tiene TODOS los tanques, TODOS los bombarderos y TODOS los drones. Y pese a todo, miles y miles de personas caminan y acampan, resisten y resistirán, al ocupante y a sus cómplices dentro y fuera de su tierra, por dignidad, hasta el final, para vergüenza del mundo que mira y no ve nada.
Nadie puede alegar ignorancia. No hay equidistancia ante un régimen de apartheid, como no había equidistancia posible ante los guetos del nazismo o los bantustanes de Sudáfrica. Las palabras del carnicero Ariel Sharon en 1982 siguen resonando en cada crimen del sionismo, sin que nada ni nadie se atreva a negarlas: DIJO SHARON: “Por el pueblo judío estoy dispuesto a ejecutar el trabajo sucio, los asesinatos de árabes que sea necesario, a expulsar, quemar y exiliar; a todo lo que haga falta para que se nos odie. Estoy dispuesto a calentar el suelo que pisan los yids de la diáspora hasta que se vean obligados a venir gritando. Aunque para ello tenga que volar por los aires varias sinagogas. Me da igual”. DIJO SHARON: “Y me da igual si cinco minutos después de que haya acabado todo el trabajo sucio, cuando se haya logrado el objetivo y todo esté en su sitio, vosotros me hacéis un proceso de Nuremberg. Me podéis condenar a prisión de por vida o colgarme por crímenes de guerra si os da la gana. Después limpiaréis con lejía vuestra conciencia y seréis lo bastante guapos, altos y sanos como para entrar en el club de los pueblos civilizados”. DIJO SHARON: “Dejadme que me ocupe de ese trabajo sucio, dedicadme todos los insultos que se os ocurran. Lo que no podéis comprender es que el trabajo repugnante del sionismo no se acabó en 1948. Habríamos podido ser como los ingleses, los franceses, los alemanes y los norteamericanos, que han tenido tiempo para olvidar lo que hicieron a los indios. O como los australianos, que masacraron a casi todos los indígenas. ¿Qué hay de malo en ello?”, DIJO SHARON.
Contra el testimonio brutal del carnicero Sharon y el espíritu colonial del sionismo nos sirven las palabras de Galeano: “Los colonos invaden, los soldados cambian las fronteras. Las balas consagran la expropiación en legítima defensa. No hay guerra de invasión que no diga ser defensiva. Hitler invadió Polonia para defenderse de Polonia. Franco llenó cunetas y fosas comunes para redimirnos. Bush invadió Irak para proteger al mundo. El mundo lleva 70 años matando a Palestina para eliminar el ejemplo de dignidad de su Pueblo. De eso nos defienden: de los ejemplos contagiosos que enseñan a resistir contra la injusticia, porque sin justicia no hay paz. No hay paz con miseria, abuso, expolio, tortura, invasión, expulsión, bombardeos, extorsión, con empresarios vendiendo armas y ministros decidiendo a favor de empresarios, y empresarios que se meten a ministros y ministros que se convierten en empresarios. En Israel, en los países de la OTAN, en todos los continentes como Europa y, por supuesto, en el Estado español. Y no nombramos a nadie porque es imposible nombrarlos a todos.
Tampoco hace falta repetir lo que hay de malo en el discurso criminal del colonialismo, en la hipocresía del Estado español y todos sus amigos o en las prácticas cotidianas del genocidio. Los grandes criminales han hecho creer sus excusas a quienes deberían volverse contra ellos en defensa de las víctimas. Da asco, vergüenza y rabia tener que repetirlo. Da asco, rabia y vergüenza ver cómo todo sigue igual, igual y peor, con la complicidad de estados, gobiernos, medios de comunicación y una ciudadanía anestesiada ante la retransmisión en directo del genocidio.


Los asesinos sionistas, como todos sus socios, no ven nada malo en asesinar sistemáticamente. Nada ven de malo muchos de sus testigos, porque sus ojos no ven seres humanos sino seres “torturables y asesinables”, cucarachas inmundas que amenazan la “democracia” y agreden los “valores” de quienes hablan de paz mientras hacen, organizan, producen, trafican, controlan y multiplican el negocio de la guerra. Esos mismos “charlatanes con valores democráticos” son los mismos que nos amenazan con todo el peso de las armas del estado de derecho mientras exterminan, uno tras otro, todo derecho fundamental.
Son los mismos que, a quienes estamos aquí repitiendo lo mismo año tras año, década tras década, nos acusarán de “antisemitismo”, de “delitos de odio” o del nuevo delito que inventen con sus cerebros podridos y escriban con las manos manchadas de sangre. Pero es lo mínimo que podemos hacer: seguir aquí. Aquí nos tendrán, vivos y vivas, haciendo saber a nuestros hermanos y hermanas palestinas que su lucha es y será justa y legítima. También es legal, pero esa legalidad, reconocida por los mismos que les matan, no parece haber servido de nada. Solo el pueblo salva al pueblo. Solo el pueblo, si se libra del veneno que esparcen sus falsos defensores, salva al pueblo. Solo el pueblo, cuando entiende quién es el agresor, dónde está, cómo se beneficia y qué excusas defiende, salva al pueblo.
Basta ya de ocupación, saqueo y genocidio.
Viva la lucha del Pueblo Palestino.
Viva su lucha por vivir en paz y con justicia, que es la lucha de todos los pueblos del mundo.
Desde el Río hasta el Mar se llama Palestina y su capital es Jerusalén.
Viva Palestina Libre
Viva Palestina Libre
Viva Palestina Libre
FPLZ 2/04/18