Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resigned Saturday as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee in a bid to force new elections for the top body, an official said.
Wassel Abu Yussef said that more than half of the 18-member committee had also stepped down.
According to Channel 2, 11 of the 18 members of the executive committee, including Abbas himself, voted in favor of the resignation, which will subsequently warrant new elections. Abbas is believed to be seeking these elections in order to allow for more of his supporters to become members of the PLO’s Executive Committee, Channel 2 reported.
“The resignation of the president of the executive committee Mahmoud Abbas and more than half of its members has created a legal vacuum, and therefore the Palestine National Council has been asked to meet in one month to elect a new executive committee,” Yussef told AFP.
Yussef added, however, that the resignations will take effect only when the PNC meets. The PNC, or Palestinian parliament, has 740 members who live in the Palestinian territories and in the diaspora.
The move does not affect Abbas’s standing as Palestinian Authority president, but reflects growing dissatisfaction and factionalism in Palestinian politics.
Elected in 2005, Abbas is now in the eleventh year of what was supposed to be a four-year term. He has threatened to resign or dissolve the Palestinian Authority several times since becoming president of the PA.
Yussef said that before the resignations were announced, the executive committee elected chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as its secretary-general.
That move came after Abbas suspended another key member, Yasser Abed Rabbo, as secretary-general. It was not immediately clear why Abed Rabbo, a veteran PLO figure, had been sidelined.