RAMALLAH, Palestine

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Central Council on Monday elected Rawhi Fattouh, its new head in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, according to official Palestine TV.

The council “elected Rawhi Fattouh as head of the National Council, and Ali Faisal and Musa Hadid as his deputies,” the state TV said.

It added that Fahmy al-Zaarir has been elected the council’s secretary.

Fattouh will replace Salim al-Zanoun, who recently submitted his resignation.

Fattouh, Hadid, and al-Zaarir all belong to the Fatah movement, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Faisal is a senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The council kicked off its 31st session on Sunday in Ramallah under the shadow of a boycott by some Palestinian factions.

The two-day Central Council meeting, held under the title “Developing and activating the PLO, protecting the national project and popular resistance,” will discuss Israeli settlement activity, especially in occupied Jerusalem, as well as the deadlocked peace process and other political and domestic issues.

Some Palestinian factions – including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian National Initiative (Al-Mubadara), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and the Vanguard for the Popular Liberation War (As-Sa’iqa) – have boycotted the meetings, arguing that they were held unilaterally without a national consensus.

Palestinian resistance group Hamas criticized the meeting in a statement Friday.

“There is no legitimacy for any meeting that is held unilaterally, far from national consensus, and the majority of the powers and factions and major influential Palestinian components are absent from it,” it said.

The Central Council is a smaller assembly emanating from the National Council, the highest legislative body for Palestinians at home and abroad, and is affiliated with the PLO.

Notably, the PLO does not include, so far, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups.

Palestinian factions accuse the Fatah movement of “excluding” the leadership of the Palestinian people and of not taking real steps to end the internal division, which the movement denies.

Fatah is the largest faction of the confederated multi-party PLO.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar

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