Executive Committee (EC)
The Executive Committee (EC) is the primary executive organ of the PLO and represents the organisation at the international level. Its main function is to execute the policies and decisions set out by the Palestinian National Council (PNC) and the Palestinian Central Council (PCC), and is responsible for adopting a budget. Each member of the EC is responsible for overseeing the functioning of the PLO’s departments, similar to the role of ministers. Decisions of the EC are taken by a simple majority.
In September 2009 the EC appointed Mahmoud Abbas as chairman. During the same meeting, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA) was made permanent observer at EC meetings – re-enforcing the institutional connection between the PLO and PA. Abbas has continued to solidify his hold over the EC, including by freezing funds to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in 2016 following their increased criticism of his policies, especially regarding security coordination with Israel.
In May 2018, the PNC elected a new EC membership (including the renewal of 6 existing mandates). Abbas’s convening of the PNC to elect a new EC leadership was seen by analysts as an effort to consolidate his hold on power by promoting his supporters, while further marginalising political rivals.
The current EC has 15 members, including its chairman, elected by the PNC during its last meeting in April/May 2018. A further 3 EC seats have been left vacant, supposedly to be filled by representatives of groups that boycotted the last PNC meeting, such as the PFLP. In November 2020, the EC’s secretary general Saeb Erekat died from Covid-19. His position has yet to be filled.