Abbas to convene PLO council

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will convene the Palestinian National Council (PNC) later this month for the first time in more than a decade, the head of the body said on Sunday.

"We will invite members of the Palestinian National Council to an extraordinary meeting on the 26th and 27th of this month at the presidential residence in Ramallah," Salim al-Zaanoun said.

The legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) includes hundreds of representatives from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the diaspora, and has not convened since 1998.

The body will meet to elect six new members to its executive committee following the deaths over the past several years of the incumbents, including Samir Ghosheh, who died at the age of 70 earlier this month.

The meeting of the council follows a congress of Abbas's secular Fatah party, which has dominated the PLO since its founding in 1964 and elected a raft of new leaders earlier this month.

As part of the Middle East peace process, the PNC met in 1996 to change its charter to remove references to destroying Israel, and it briefly met in Gaza to reaffirm the changes in 1998.