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The New Arab

Abbas reaffirms his leadership as PLO head despite decreasing popularity

Mahmoud Abbas' term of office expired in 2009 [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 May, 2018

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A Palestinian National Council meeting boycotted by Hamas and the leftist PFLP reaffirmed Abbas as the head of the PLO as a growing number of Palestinians want him to resign.

The PLO has affirmed 83-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as its unchallenged leader towards the end of a four day Palestinian National Council meeting.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) parliament also backed Abbas' positions in several resolutions early on Friday, including rejecting the idea of a Palestinian state within provisional borders.

Palestinians fear such a "mini-state" will be the core of the Trump administration's eventual proposal for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Delegates also elected new members to the main leadership body, voting out some of the remaining Abbas critics.

The PLO, founded in the 1960s, was meant to represent Palestinians everywhere, but decision-making has shifted to the Abbas-led West Bank autonomy government.

Critics say that in the absence of Palestinian general elections, the PLO serves largely to lend legitimacy to Abbas' increasingly autocratic rule in the West Bank.

During the meeting, Abbas came under global condemnation for anti-Semitic remarks on Monday evening.

During his lengthy speech in the meeting, which was boycotted by Islamist Hamas and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the main two political factions opposed to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the unpopular Palestinian leader, whose term of office expired in 2009 sparked fury as he claimed that the economic status of Jews in Europe in the 20th century provoked the Holocaust.

“From the 11th century up until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, Jews who moved to Western and Eastern Europe, were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen? They claim it is because they are purely Jewish,” the 82-year-old politician said.

He then claimed the “social function” of Jews in Europe is what provoked the Holocaust and their “financial activities” rather than their identity is what made them a target of such systematic murder.

A majority of Palestinians want Abbas to resign while over half of the Palestinian public fear publicly criticising the Palestinian Authority, a poll conducted late last year found.

The survey was carried out across the West Bank and Gaza Strip from September 14 to 16 by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

Sixty-seven percent of Palestinians demand Abbas' resignation, according to the poll, with the figure standing at 80 percent in the Gaza Strip.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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