Mahmoud Abbas resigned Saturday as head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s executive committee in a bid to force new elections for a new body at the Palestinian National Council meeting next month.

Over half of the 18-member committee also stepped down along with Abbas, AFP quoted a PLO official, Wassel Abu Yussef, as saying on Saturday, without elaborating about the reason.

Erekat said that such resignations are submitted to the PLO’s parliament-in-exile, the Palestinian National Council, and not the executive.

One PLO official denied that Abbas had tendered his resignation.

The executive committee is the PLO’s highest decision-making body and acts on behalf of Palestinians in the occupied territories and the diaspora, and works for a peace process with Israel, a journey that has frequently stalled.

That move came after Abbas suspended another key member, Yasser Abed Rabbo, as secretary general.

The current executive committee and its chairman will keep their job until the PNC holds its session. Palestinian analysts said that Abbas wanted to distance Abed Rabbo, who had become an increasingly vocal critic.

The Times of Israel called his resignation a sign of “dissatisfaction and factionalism in Palestinian politics”.