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December 27, 2018 9:20 am

Surprise: Aging Abbas Consolidates Power Even Further

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US President Donald Trump with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, May 23, 2017. Photo: Shealah Craighead/White House.

A few days ago, Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the largely symbolic Palestinian parliament. He pretended to do it in a “legal” way — and therein lies a tale.

The PLC is dominated by Hamas, which won more seats than Fatah in the only parliamentary election ever held in the territories now governed by the Palestinian Authority (PA). While it hasn’t met since 2006, the PLC still has one meaningful function in Palestinian law: If Abbas dies, the Palestinian Basic Law says that the speaker of the PLC becomes acting prime minister; currently, that is a Hamas member. So Abbas has an incentive to ensure that Fatah remains in control of the PLC should he die.

In October, the Fatah Revolutionary Council called on the Palestinian Central Committee (PCC) to dissolve the PLC. The Fatah Revolutionary Council is dominated by Abbas supporters. However, the PCC does not have the legal right to dissolve the PLC. And neither does Abbas.

In early December, Abbas vowed to dissolve the PLC “in a legal way.” But it is unclear if there is any legal way to do so under the Palestinian Basic Law. Yet now Abbas has declared that the Palestinian Constitutional Court has indeed dissolved the PLC, just like he wanted.

The Court does not have a webpage. It has a Facebook page that doesn’t mention any such decision, or indeed any of its decisions. From that page, it appears that members of the court travel to other Islamic countries to conferences on constitutional law — and do little else.

But the Palestinian Constitutional Court, although mentioned in the 2003 Basic Law, was not set up until 2016. And guess who handpicked all members of the court? Mahmoud Abbas.

Even when that court was created in 2016, it was seen as a power play to further restrict what the PLC could do, or even serve as an effective replacement for the PLC. So it is fitting that Abbas declared that his “Supreme Court” made the decision he told them to make. They could do little else.

Hamas members of the PLC vowed to meet anyway, or at least to hold a press conference in front of the shuttered parliament building. Abbas’ security forces went there to physically stop them from doing so — claiming that they were just following the decision of the court.

It is remarkable how the Western media still reports on Abbas as if he is somehow a legitimate ruler that is accountable to his people. He is just as much a despot as Syria’s Assad, and he controls every aspect of Palestinian legislative, executive, and judicial power.

Elder of Ziyon has been blogging about Israel and the Arab world for a really long time now. He also controls the world, but deep down, you already knew that.

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