Last updated: 15 November, 2011

Palestinians mark “independence day”

Executive committee members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation were to meet Tuesday evening as the Palestinians marked 23 years since first declaring their independence.

The meeting, to be chaired by president Mahmud Abbas, will address the bid to secure full state membership at the United Nations, the acceptance of the Palestinians as members of the UN cultural organisation UNESCO and efforts to advance a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas, officials said.

“The Palestinian bid at the UN hasn’t reached a dead end and we will continue our efforts until we acquire full membership through the Security Council,” committee member Wassel Abu Yusef told AFP.

He said they would also discuss the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, including a strategy for a unified political programme to stage presidential and parliamentary elections and a date for the formation of a new government.

Implementation of a unity deal is to be the subject of a high-level meeting between Fatah head Abbas and exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo next week.

The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement was inked in May but has yet to be implemented.

“We must move forward on this and I think the anniversary of the declaration of independence makes it even more appropriate,” committee member Tayseer Khaled told Voice of Palestine radio. “This split has been so damaging to us.”

“We will also address the political attack on the PLO in the diplomatic arena and the United Nations,” he said, referring to a deadlock in the UN Security Council over how to vote on the Palestinian membership request which was presented by Abbas on September 23.

“The Security Council is not the end of the road,” Khaled said. “It should help us launch a wide political campaign towards achieving our goals and rights.”

Palestinians on Tuesday observed a public holiday to mark 23 years since late PLO chief and iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat issued a declaration of independence at a meeting of the Palestinian National Council.

At the meeting, which took place in Algiers on November 15, 1988, the PNC also adopted the two-state solution, meaning independent Israeli and Palestinian states coexisting alongside one another.