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Abbas big loser in Palestinian National Council postponement

The decision to postpone a planned emergency meeting of the Palestinian National Council signals an impending transition of power within the Palestinian movement.

The lead story Sept. 9 in the Ramallah-based pro-PLO daily Al-Ayyam summarized what had been happening since the unexpected Aug. 22 resignation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and nine members of the PLO’s Executive Committee. In short, the article detailed the increasing calls to postpone the planned Sept. 14 meeting of the Palestinian National Council, identifying all the relevant Palestinian factions that had sent written requests to Salim Zanoun, speaker of the PNC, calling for a delay. Three of Al-Ayyam's five main opinion columns reflected on what had happened and why postponement was necessary to avoid a much deeper split among the Palestinians.

The writing on the wall had begun to appear weeks earlier, when Zanoun, also a former judge and prominent Palestinian jurist, voiced his opposition to efforts by the Executive Committee to manhandle the PNC. On Aug. 24, Zanoun had rejected moves by Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department, and by Abbas to apply Clause 14-c of the PLO bylaws, which allows for a meeting of the PLO’s highest legislative body without a quorum in the case of a “force majeure.”

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