Jerusalem, Jan 30 (ANI): The Palestinian Authority has accused Iran and Syria of encouraging Hamas and other radical groups to establish a new leadership that would challenge the PLO's claim to be the "sole and legitimate" representative of the Palestinians. The PA fears that several Islamic governments that are unhappy with President Mahmoud Abbas would recognize the potential new leadership, which would be headed by Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal.
The PA is also worried because the idea of replacing the PLO is being backed by prominent Arab political analysts, newspaper editors and even veteran Fatah leader Farouk Kaddoumi, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Abbas, who met with US Middle East envoy George Mitchel in Ramallah, warned that any attempt to create an alternative leadership to the PLO would "consolidate divisions" among the Palestinians.
Mashaal on Wednesday surprised the PA by announcing that the current circumstances require the Palestinians to start thinking about the creation of a new leadership that would represent all Palestinians. The PLO was no longer the legitimate representative of the Palestinians "because of its role in deepening divisions among the Palestinians," he said.
His declaration has won the backing of all the Damascus-based Palestinian groups, including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command headed by Ahmed Jibril, the paper reported.
Mashaal's statement has been interpreted by the PA and Fatah officials in the West Bank as "the most serious challenge to the PLO since its foundation."
Ahmed Abdel Rahman, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas, accused the Iranians and Syrians of meddling in Palestinian affairs.
"This is cheap meddling in our affairs. "They are inciting some sick people like Khaled Mashaal to reject national reconciliation and to go ahead with their plans to form an alternative leadership. But these attempts are doomed to failure," he said. (ANI)