By Adam Rasgon
More than 80 Palestinian officials are expected to attend the Central Council meeting which will take place at the president’s headquarters in Ramallah.
The Palestinians on Tuesday started to distribute invitations to a meeting of a top Palestine Liberation Organization body, which is slated to take place on January 14, official Palestinian Authority radio reported.
PA President and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas decided to convene the Palestinian Central Council, the PLO’s second highest decision-making body, after US President Donald Trump changed American policy on Jerusalem.
In early December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated a process to relocate the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, breaking with decades of American policy.
Nonetheless, the US president said the final status of Jerusalem would be up to Israel and the Palestinians to decide.
Invitations will be sent out to all the Palestinian factions including Hamas and Islamic Jihad – which are not members of the PLO – to participate in the Central Council’s upcoming meeting in Ramallah, PLO official Khalid Mismar told official PA radio on Tuesday.
The meeting will aim “to set forth a strategy for the coming period in light of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” PLO Executive Committee and Central Council member Wasel Abu Yousif told The Jerusalem Post in a phone call.
More than 80 Palestinian officials are expected to attend the Central Council meeting, which will take place at the Mukata, the PA president’s headquarters in Ramallah.
The last time the Central Council met in March 2015, the PLO body voted to suspend security coordination between the PA security forces and Israel.
For more than two years, Abbas made no move to halt security coordination, disregarding the council’s vote.
However, in the summer of 2017, amid a dispute between Israel and the Palestinians regarding the Temple Mount, the PA president announced the suspension of security coordination.
But according to PA Police Chief Hazem Atallah, security coordination was never completely halted, and was fully restored in late October.
When asked why Central Council decisions should be taken seriously if past ones were neglected, Abu Yousif said “there will be a review of why the past decisions were not immediately implemented at the upcoming meeting.”
On Tuesday, Hamas Spokesman Hazim Qassim told the official Chinese news agency Xinhua that his movement “received an oral invitation” to the Central Council meeting and “is studying its response.”
According to Palestinian officials, Hamas suggested several days ago that the Central Council be held in Beirut, but Abbas rejected the proposal.
Hamas has a number of lower- and mid-level officials in the West Bank who could represent it at the council, and Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad has suggested that other Hamas leaders could participate via video conference.