The Palestinian National Council (PNC), Parliament in exile of the Palestinian people, is the most important institution of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). The PNC elects the Executive Committee of the organization which makes up the leadership between sessions.
The first PNC, composed of 422 representatives, met in Jerusalem in May 1964 and adopted the Palestinian National Charter (also known as Palestinian National Convenant). At this conference, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation was established as the political expression of the Palestinian people. The participants in the conference represented the Palestinian communities in Jordan, West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Qatar, Libya and Algeria. Ahmad Al-Shuqeiry was elected the first Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee.
Later sessions were held in Cairo (2nd 1965), Gaza (3rd, 1966), Cairo (4th – 13th, 1968-1977 ), Damascus (14th – 15th, 1979-1981), Algiers (16th, 1983), Amman (17th, 1984), Algiers (18th – 20th, 1987-1991) Gaza (21th, 1996, and 22nd, 1998).
At its 19th session in Algiers in November 1988, the PNC unilaterally declared the independence of the Arab State of Palestine.
After the signing of the Oslo agreements, the PNC conveyed in Gaza in April 1996 to void parts of the Palestinian National Convenant that denied Israel’s right to exist. This was done by 504 votes in favour and 54 against.
At the insistance of the then Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, who raised it as a condition to continue the Peace process, the PNC gather again in Gaza in December 1998, in presence of the US President Clinton, to reaffirm again the deletion of the parts of the Charter which denied Israel’s right to exist.
At present time, there are 669 members. The members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) (88, directly elected in January 1996) are automatically members of the PNC, and together with 98 other members from inside the Palestinian territories represent the Palestinian population living in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 while the other 483 members of the PNC represent the Palestinian diaspora. The Council normally meets every two years. Resolutions are passed by a simple majority (two thirds of the members must attend for quorum).
At present the PNC is chaired by Salim Zanoun.