Palestine: Number of National Council members reduced to 350

PA President Mahmoud Abbas makes a speech during the 23rd session of the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah, West Bank in 2018 (Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 19, 2021

The Palestinian factions have agreed to reduce the number of Palestinian National Council (PNC) members from 765 to 35 –150 from inside Palestine and 200 from the diaspora, Anadolu Agency reported on Monday.

Speaking to official Palestinian radio, secretary of the PNC Mohammed Subaih confirmed that the reduction came after lengthy discussions among the different Palestinian factions.

The PNC is a Palestinian body that represents the Palestinians inside and outside Palestine, while the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is the body representing the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of Palestinians reached about 13.7 million by the end of 2020: 5.2 million in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, 6.2 million in the Arab states, about 738,000 in other states and 1.6 million in Palestine occupied in 1948 or Israel.

Subaih explained that the 132 PLC members automatically become PNC members and the remaining 18 members are chosen through a national agreement among Palestinian factions.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s basic law stipulates that the PNC is the organisation’s supreme authority and it is the body which lays down its plans and programmes.

Subaih indicated that only the members of the PLC are elected by the Palestinian people. The others are chosen through an agreement among the Palestinian factions because many of the states that host Palestinians have their own policies.

The PNC has not held any elections since it was formed in 1964. In 1996, the PNC was based in Gaza and chose its chairman, Salim Zanoun.

On Friday, the Palestinian Authority, PLO and Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree to hold presidential, PLC and PNC elections consecutively during the coming six months.