Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas addressed a special gathering on Saturday, marking 59 years since the foundation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
"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," the chairman stated.
"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."
Abbas added that the PLO received its role as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people through the sacrifice of what he called "the martyrs and prisoners" and emphasized that "suspicious attempts" to undermine it would fail.
"The PLO, for all its history, went through difficult times, but it stood strong against all those who tried to stop it. It carried the worry and suffering of our Palestinian people at any place it was, as well as its ambitions to obtain freedom and independence like all nations of the world," the chairman stated.
In his address, Chairman Abbas hinted at attempts by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations to present an alternative front to the PLO's official leadership in Ramallah. For years, these attempts aim at subverting Abbas' rule, with claims of corruption, nepotism, and a lack of will to take proactive steps in leading the Palestinian Arabs to their state.
Hamas and Jihad constantly challenge the PLO's hegemony both in the Gaza Strip and in the territories of Judea and Samaria. Independent terror attacks, the take-over of university student organizations, and the increasing incitement on social media have given these organizations an edge in Palestinian Arab public opinion.
An example of this was seen last week when in Shechem (Nablus), Hamas won elections at the Al-Najah University, which was considered a Fatah stronghold, winning 40 seats to 38. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine won the remaining three seats. At Bir Zayt University, the Hamas student organization won two times in a row, beating Fatah, which only received 20 seats.