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

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.


Israel says defense officials caught in major bribery case

Updated 4 min 13 sec ago

Israel says defense officials caught in major bribery case

  • A statement by the ministry said public servants working in the unnamed defense body allegedly received millions in bribes

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Justice Ministry said Tuesday it plans to prosecute suspects involved in a “serious corruption affair” in one of the country’s defense bodies.
Most details of the case, including the names of the suspects, were unavailable because of a gag order.
But a statement by the ministry said public servants working in the unnamed defense body allegedly received millions in bribes from companies with the aim of promoting sales deals with Israel’s defense establishment.
The suspects are to be charged with bribery, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering, among others offenses, pending a hearing.
The announcement comes after the ministry said last week it would serve indictments for corruption charges in a $2 billion German submarine deal that roped in close associates of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the country’s former navy chief.
The justice ministry claims those accused in the submarine case personally benefited from the purchase.
Netanyahu was questioned, but not named as a suspect, in the submarine probe, known as “case 3000.” But it sparked questions about his earnings on a related German submarine sale to Egypt.
Netanyahu has been indicted in three other graft cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He has denied wrongdoing on all charges.