AMMAN: Hundreds of staff who are paid salaries but do little work will lose their jobs in a major downsizing of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The restructuring is aimed at ending the duplication of tasks by the PLO and the Palestinian government, and reducing the size of the 700-member Palestine National Council, which is expected to lose half its staff and half its budget.
Among the departments to be axed from the PLO are social affairs, military, Jerusalem, sports, youth and the diaspora. Those that deal with refugees, planning, culture, media and the national fund will remain.
“Why do we need staff and offices in the PLO for such areas as social affairs and education, when we have major ministries in the government that are focusing on these areas?” Hanna Amireh, a member of the PLO’s executive committee, told Arab News.
“When the PLO was responsible for all Palestinian affairs, this made sense, but now we have a government with relevant ministries and it doesn’t make sense to have such duplication.”
Most PLO staff belong to the various factions that make up the organization, and have been on the payroll for many years. This arrangement allowed these factions to provide jobs for their members.
PLO sources told Arab News that the restructuring would also affect the Palestine National Council. The PNC holds occasional extraordinary meetings, but its full regular session scheduled for April 30 will be the first for 22 years.
Most of the PNC’s budget goes to pay salaries to staff who have little work to do. “The membership of the PNC will have to be cut in half, as will its budget,” a PLO source said.
Najeeb Qaddoumi, a PNC member and senior Fatah activist in Jordan, confirmed that a restructuring would take place on April 30 but denied that it would be downsizing. “Some departments might be eliminated and others might be boosted,” he said.
Ali Qleibo, an artist, author and lecturer at Al Quds University, said the PLO had “exhausted its role since Lebanon and has caused chaos in the land.”
The downsizing will surprise analysts who had expected the Palestinians to revitalize the PLO after the failure of the peace process and the lack of trust in the Palestinian Authority.