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The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization and elects its Executive Committee, which assumes leadership of the organization between its sessions. The Council normally meets every two years. Resolutions are passed by a simple majority with a quorum of two-thirds. The PNC elects its own chairman.
The first PNC, composed of 422 representatives, met in Jerusalem in May 1964 and adopted the Palestinian National Covenant (also called Palestinian National Charter). It also established the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the political expression of the Palestinian people and elected Ahmad Al-Shuqeiry as the first chairman of the PLO Executive Committee. At the conference were representatives from Palestinian communities in Jordan, West Bank, the Gaza strip, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Qatar, Libya, and Algeria.
As of 2012 the main office of the PNC is in Amman and a branch office is located in Ramallah.
At the February 1969 meeting in Cairo, Yasser Arafat was appointed leader of the PLO. He continued to be PLO leader (sometimes called Chairman, sometimes President) until his death in 2004.
In a November 1988 meeting in Algiers, the PNC unilaterally declared the independence of the Arab State of Palestine.
After the signing of the Oslo Accords, the PNC met in Gaza in April 1996 and voted 504 to 54 to void parts of the Palestinian National Covenant that denied Israel's right to exist, but the charter itself has not been formally changed or re-drafted. One of its most prominent members, the Palestinian-American scholar and activist Edward Said, left the PNC because he believed that the Oslo Accords sold short the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in pre-1967 Israel and would not lead to a lasting peace.
In December 1998, the PNC met in Gaza at the insistence of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called it a condition on the continuation of the peace process. In the presence of the US President Clinton, it reaffirmed again the annulling of the parts of the Covenant which denied Israel's right to exist, but it still did not formally change or re-draft the Covenant.
As of 2003[update], the PNC is chaired by Salim Zanoun and has 669 members; 88 are from the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), 98 represent the Palestinian population living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and 483 represent the Palestinian diaspora. While the PNC has a number of PLC members, it is not an organ of the Palestinian Authority. Rather it is the equivalent of PA's PLC.
Candidates for the PNC must be nominated by a committee consisting of the PLO Executive Committee, the PNC chairman, and the commander in chief of the Palestine Liberation Army. After nomination PNC candidates must be elected by a majority of the entire PNC membership.
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