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Abbas accused of power grab after Palestinian appointments

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PA president used Palestinian Central Council meeting to entrench his power and secure his successor, critics say.

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Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Major Palestinian groups have slammed new appointments to top positions in the PLO as illegitimate and an attempt to entrench the power of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and secure the 86-year-old’s favoured successor.

The Palestinian Central Council (PCC) announced the appointments to the Palestine Liberation Organization – an umbrella organisation of Palestinian political parties – after a two-day meeting on February 6 and 7 in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

The meeting was criticised by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who said in a joint statement on Wednesday that the appointments had “neither recognition nor legitimacy”, and that they were “a violation of decisions based on national consensus”.

During the meeting, the first since 2018, three officials regarded as Abbas loyalists were appointed to the PLO’s 16-member executive committee, including controversial PA official Hussein al-Sheikh who will likely replace late chief negotiator Saeb Erekat as the committee’s secretary-general.

Two other seats were filled by close Abbas aides: Mohammad Mustafa, an independent, and Ramzi Khoury, a member of Abbas’s Fatah party.

The PCC also appointed as its chairman, and speaker of the 747-member Palestinian National Council (PNC), Fatah central committee member and Abbas aide Rawhi Fattouh.

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