Palestinian congress to meet for first time in years


Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

The Palestinian congress will meet next month for the first time in years, official media announced Wednesday, as president Mahmud Abbas plans a response to US policies.

The Palestinian National Council, a congress representing those in the Palestinian territories and the diaspora, has not met in regular session since 1996 amid political infighting between Abbas's secular Fatah party and Islamist movement Hamas.

An emergency session of the body was held in 2009.

But it will gather on April 30, the Wafa official news agency said, after a decision by the Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee.

The more than 700-member PNC serves as the parliament of the PLO.

Mohammad Shtayyeh, an adviser to Abbas, told journalists Tuesday that among the tasks for the meeting was a "new political programme".

The Palestinians have grown increasingly frustrated with the US administration, accusing it of a pro-Israel bias after President Donald Trump's controversial December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

They have called for an end to US mediation between the two sides, instead calling for a multilateral approach.

The meeting could also include members of Hamas, despite reconciliation attempts with Fatah failing.

All members of the largely defunct Palestinian parliament are automatic members of the congress even though Hamas is not part of the PLO.

Hamas won the last legislative elections in 2006 and thus has 74 members in parliament who are in theory able to attend.

Many could be prevented from doing so by Israel, which has fought three wars with Hamas since 2008.

"Hamas has a chance to come to the meeting," Shtayyeh said.

It was not immediately clear if Hamas would attend.