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abbas warnsPalestinian president Mahmud Abbas resigned Saturday as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee in a bid to force new elections for the top body, an official said.

Wassel Abu Yussef said that more than half of the 18-member committee had also stepped down.

“The resignation of the president of the executive committee Mahmud Abbas and more than half of its members has created a legal vacuum, and therefore the Palestine National Council has been asked to meet in one month to elect a new executive committee,” Yussef told AFP.

Yussef added, however, that the resignations will take effect only when the PNC meets.

The PNC, or Palestinian parliament, has 740 members who live in the Palestinian territories and in the diaspora. It has not met in nearly 20 years.

The executive committee is the PLO’s highest decision-making body and acts on behalf of Palestinians in the occupied territories and the diaspora, namely in the peace process with Israel.

In 1993, Abbas, then executive committee secretary general, signed the Oslo autonomy accords on behalf of the Palestinians.

Yussef said that before the resignations were announced, the executive committee elected chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat as its secretary general.

That move came after Abbas suspended another key member, Yasser Abed Rabbo, as secretary general.

After he sacked Yasser Abed Rabbo, a veteran of the PLO’s Executive Committee and its most recent chair, six other members of the body threatened resignation. Abbas has also shut down Abed Rabbo’s Palestinian Peace Coalition, essentially the Palestinian branch of the “Geneva Initiative” . Those moves were reportedly dictated by Abbas’s personal rivalry with Abed Rabbo and his growing concern that his rivals within Fatah, such as Mohammed Dahlan, are conspiring with activists from other parties in order to oust him.

Yahoo/AFP/ Agencies

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