The “supreme legislative representative body for all the Palestinian people inside Palestine and in the Diaspora,” according to its website. Established in 1964, the role of the PNC is to establish Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) policies and plans. It has 747 members, representing Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPT) and the Diaspora. While the PNC originally represented most Palestinian factions, after the signing of the Oslo Accords, important members such as Edward Said resigned from the PNC in protest. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which became prominent during the Oslo process, have asked to be incorporated into the PNC in reconciliation negotiations with the PLO’s main faction Fatah. (This conflict broke out into the open after Hamas won elections for the Palestinian Authority parliamentary in 2006, and took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. The split rendered the PNC largely inoperative.)
According to PLO laws and PNC bylaws, PNC members serve three-year terms and must be chosen through direct election by all of the Palestinian people. With the challenges of holding elections among Palestinians in the diaspora and the oPT, PNC members had been appointed by a quota system where Fatah is most dominant, followed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PNC has not held a regular full session since 1996; limited meetings have been held in controversy. In April-May 2018, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also PLO head, called a quorum of the PNC in Ramallah to elect a new PLO Central Council and Executive Committee. This was the first meeting of the PNC in 22 years. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the PFLP boycotted the meeting.