The Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization started its meeting Saturday to decide on whether or not to declare an independent Palestinian state on September 13th.
The session opened with a minute of silence in memory of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army.
Just over 100 of the Council's 129 members were present at the meeting, which is being held in the presidential palace in Gaza in the presence of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The meeting is scheduled to last for two days.
Arafat had pledged to declare a state on September 13th, the date fixed last year by Israelis and Palestinians for reaching a final peace accord.
However, he has come under strong international pressure, particularly from Israel and the United States, to postpone the declaration after the failure of the two sides to reach a deal, notably because of deep differences of the status of Jerusalem which both regard as their capital.
The chairman of the Council, Salim Za’noun, who opened the session, repeated his threat to resign if the delegates decided to delay the proclamation without setting a new date.
"I was in favor of a declaration for September 13, but if the majority decides otherwise, I would accept it, as long as the declaration comes no later than November 15th," Za’noun said.
November 15th is the anniversary of the first symbolic declaration of a Palestinian state made in Algiers in 1988.
The PLO Central Council is the intermediate body between the Palestine National Council -- the PLO parliament -- and the PLO Executive Committee.
It said in July, after a meeting in Gaza City attended by Arafat, that it would declare an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital on September 13th, despite the risk of a confrontation with Israel – GAZA CITY (AFP)
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