Any effort to replace the PLO will fail, PLO, Palestinian Authority and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday.
The 87-year-old spoke at an event marking 59 years since the PLO was founded in opposition to Israel and Zionism and amid challenges to the terrorist organization’s authority by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
“The organization was founded in 1964 to stop the international Zionist movement’s plan to erase the Palestinian people’s identity and to be the opposite of the Zionist national project,” Abbas said.
“The PLO maintained independent Palestinian nationhood and protected the national project from destruction. Creating the PLO and representing our people is one of the most important achievements in Palestinian politics,” he continued.
Abbas paid tribute to the “martyrs and prisoners” as well as the past leaders of the PLO, including Ahmad Shukeiri, the first chairman of the PLO Executive Committee.
Recent polling has shown that a majority of Palestinians would vote for Hamas over Abbas’s Fatah party if elections were held. That support was on display last week during student council elections at Al-Najah University in Shechem (Nablus) and Birzeit University north of Ramallah when Hamas won at both institutions.
At a “Nakba Day” event at United Nations headquarters in New York on May 15, Abbas delivered an incendiary speech in which he compared Israel to Nazi Germany and said that the country lies like Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that Abbas’s comparison of Israel “with the lies of infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels” was a “gross affront to Holocaust victims and survivors.”
Making such a statement “about the world’s only Jewish state is entirely unacceptable, especially during a time of rising antisemitic violence around the world,” Thomas-Greenfield said.