Palestinian unity in doubt ahead of summit on Jerusalem

Palestinian unity in doubt ahead of summit on Jerusalem
From Al Jazeera - January 14, 2018

Palestinian leaders are set to hold a crucial summit in response to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but political movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad are boycotting the event, raising questions about unity as President Mahmoud Abbas ramps up the campaign for statehood.

Hamas had announced it would not participate in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council meeting on Sunday and Monday, saying it objected to Abbas' decision to hold the meeting in the occupied West Bank.

"Hamas will not take part in the upcoming meeting," Hussam Badran, aHamas spokesman, said in a statement on Saturday, urging that it be held "outside the occupied Palestinian territories to escape from Israeli pressure".

News of the Hamas boycott comes as Israel announced on Sunday the closure of Gaza's only commercial border crossing of Karam Abu Salem, and Israeli warplanes bombed a site near the Rafah crossing.

On Sunday, the Israeli prime minister's office confirmed the bombardment of the crossing that connects Gaza with Egypt.

Islamic Jihad had earlier announced that it would not participate in the meeting in Ramallah, and later urged the Palestinian National Council (PNC) - the highest decision-making body of the PLO - "to end relations" with the US, and accelerate internal reconciliation, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are both based in Gaza, and the former governs the besieged Palestinian enclave. While both organisations are not part of the PLO, they are regularly invited to observe its meetings.

PNC head Saleem al-Zanoon will preside over the meeting of the Central Council, the second-highest Palestinian legislative body after the PNC.

In a statement posted on the PNC website on Saturday, Zanoon urged "unity" among all Palestinian factions, saying "the situation is very delicate and the challenges and risks are increasing.

"As long as Israel chose aggression and refused to recognise our rights and our state with Jerusalem as its capital, it is our right to reconsider and choose alternatives that will achieve our legitimate national goals," he said.

He added that the council meeting will go ahead, saying he hopes the leaders will come up with resolutions "that protect our national rights in establishing our independent state with Jerusalem as its capital".

Questions on legitimacy


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