Diaspora, Palestine ‘to elect PLO parliament’

Palestinian factions agreed on Saturday that the PLO parliament will be directly elected, and balance representatives from the Palestinian territories and the diaspora.

The PLO reform committee, set up in the wake of the May 2011 reconciliation deal, met in the Egyptian capital to agree on the structure of the Palestinian National Council.

Palestinians’ sole representative on the world stage, the PLO has faced criticism of failing to include Diaspora voices, as well as newer factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who are not members.

The PNC — the PLO’s parliament — was dominated by appointees and members of the PA parliament, which Diaspora Palestinians noted they had no say in.

At Saturday’s meeting, the committee agreed the PNC will consist of 350 directly elected members. The Palestinian territories will be treated as one voting constituency, electing 150 delegates.

The division of further constituencies for the election of 200 Diaspora representatives is pending a feasibility assessment of polls in foreign countries with Palestinian populations.

But the committee insisted representation the Diaspora would be comprehensive, with elections in all countries that permit them, and appointment of representatives in countries where voting is not permitted.

Speaker of the PNC Salim Zaanoun said there would be further committee meetings to elaborate the details.

The nine-month old reconciliation deal to end the Hamas-Fatah division sought to forge a common national strategy and reform the PLO, including opening the body for Hamas participation.

Established in 1964, the PLO speaks for Palestinians at the UN and is a signatory to international texts, in contrast to the Palestinian Authority government based in Ramallah which was given temporary jurisdiction within limited areas of self-rule in the 1993 Oslo Accords.

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