Hundreds of Palestinian lawyers have held a protest in the occupied West Bank against the Palestinian Authority’s “rule by decree”, condemning President Mahmoud Abbas for governing without a parliament.
The Palestinian Legislative Council — created under the Oslo Peace Accords with Israel — has been inactive since 2007, meaning Abbas has led without a functioning parliament for nearly all of his tenure as president.
But a new leadership at the Palestinian Bar Association has sought to pressure the PA.
The association’s president, Suheil Ashour, said at the protest that his body would stand firm against legislation delivered by presidential decree that curbed Palestinian “rights and freedoms.”
“Our demand is either to stop their implementation now or to cancel” a raft of restrictive laws, said Ashour, who pushed for reforms when he was elected association president earlier this year.
The draft Palestinian constitution allows for presidential decrees “if necessary,” in cases where the PLC cannot act, but lawyers said Abbas has gone too far.
Riot police prevented the demonstrators, clad in their black robes, from marching to the nearby office of PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.
Abbas was elected PA president in 2005, following the death of iconic leader Yasser Arafat.
Hamas, bitter rivals of Abbas’s Fatah movement, swept to victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections.
Fallout from that vote helped spark a split in Palestinian governance, with Fatah retaining control of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Hamas running Gaza since 2007.
According to estimates by Palestinian legal experts, Abbas has issued some 400 presidential decrees while in office.
In this regard, we call on the PA to stop governing by decree as it escalates the ongoing tension.