Palestine National Council to meet for first time in 22 years

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, March 1, 2018. (AP)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Palestine National Council to meet for first time in 22 years

AMMAN: Hundreds of Palestinian political leaders and exiles will hold a rare summit next month as they seek to come up with a new strategy designed to counter Washington’s close ties with Israel.
Members of the Palestine National Council (PNC) will hold a full leadership meeting for the first time in 22 years on April 30 in reaction to the US decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and the deepening malaise hanging over the Middle East peace process.
However, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not expected to attend the summit as their long-running dispute with Fatah rumbles on. This has caused participants and analysts to warn that the gathering may only widen divisions among the feuding Palestinian factions, which have proved unable to weaken Israel’s grip on the occupied West Bank either through armed struggle or political negotiations.
Hamadeh Faraneh, an Amman-based member of the PNC, told Arab News that the summit was unlikely to achieve anything significant. He said the decision to hold the meeting for the first time since 1996, when it convened in Gaza, arose from a collective realization that many members were entering old age and needed to begin planning for a new generation of leaders to succeed them. 
Although an extraordinary meeting of the PNC was held in 2009, this is the first time in more than two decades that a full leadership meeting has been convened.
The PNC is made up of 723 Palestinians drawn from all the major political groups and the Palestinian diaspora. It first met in East Jerusalem on April 28, 1964, three years before Israel began its occupation of that half of the city.
This year’s summit — in a location yet to be decided — will be particularly poignant now that Jerusalem’s fate is yet again under the spotlight. Last December the US announced it would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, overturning decades of diplomatic protocol and provoking condemnation from a majority of UN General Assembly members.
In a recent column for the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Quds, Hani Al-Masri, a Ramallah-based analyst, wrote that the absence of Hamas and Islamic Jihad at next month’s summit could exacerbate divisions between the various Palestinian factions.


Egypt says security forces killed 14 militants in Sinai

Updated 13 min 37 sec ago
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Egypt says security forces killed 14 militants in Sinai

  • Egyptian forces said their offensive involved clashes with Islamic militants in desert areas outside the city of el-Arish

CAIRO: Egyptian security forces say they’ve killed 14 militants and seized a ton of explosives in an operation in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.
They said on Sunday that their offensive involved clashes with Islamic militants in desert areas outside the city of el-Arish, adding that the extremists had intended to plant roadside bombs in areas between there and the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweyid.
Other weapons caches including explosives were found in the more central Sinai Jabal Al-Halal mountain area.
The officials spoke anonymously as they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
The army has been battling extremist insurgents led Daesh militants in north Sinai for years. The area is off limits for journalists, diplomats and other observers so information from there cannot be independently verified.