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Palestinian Legislative Council

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Type  Unicameral
Last election  25 January 2006
Seats  132

Speaker  Aziz Duwaik, Hamas Since 2006
Political groups  Government (74)      Hamas (74) Opposition (50) Palestine Liberation Organization (50)      Fatah (45)      Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (3)      Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (1)      Palestinian People's Party (1)      Palestinian National Initiative (2)      Third Way (2)      Independents (4)
Voting system  Parallel Additional Member System

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) was the parliament of the Palestinian inhabitants of the Palestinian territories. It was a unicameral body with 132 members, elected from 16 electoral districts of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Contents

The PLC was inaugurated for the first time on 7 March 1996 and served as the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority for 11 years. The PLC had limited power and responsibilities, restricted to civil matters and internal security in Area A of the West Bank and in Gaza. Following the 2006 election and the subsequent split of Hamas and Fatah, the council ceased to function as the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority; although Hamas still claims to govern under its directive in the Gaza Strip. With the possible reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah, it would be re-assembled to become the Parliament of the State of Palestine.

The Palestinian Legislative Council passed a law in June 2005 (signed by Mahmoud Abbas on 13 August 2005), increasing the number of members from 88 to 132. It stipulated that half be elected under a system of proportional representation and half by plurality-at-large voting in traditional constituencies. The last parliamentary elections took place on 25 January 2006. The next election was intended to take place sometime in 2014 but has been delayed because of disagreements between Hamas and Fatah.

The emblem used for the Palestinian Legislative Council is referred to as the "Eagle of Saladin."

History

The Palestinian legislative council was created by the Oslo Accords and designed in accordance with the provisions of the Oslo II Accord, which dictated its composition, powers and responsibilities in detail. Every single detail regarding the elections was led down in Annex II. Oslo II determines that only residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories may vote or be elected.

The power and responsibilities of the PLC are limited to civil matters and internal security and public order (Article IX and XVII) and subject to review by Israel. The PLC is excluded from the negotiations process with Israel.

The PLC was inaugurated for the first time on 7 March 1996. The Council was predestined to replace the Arafat/Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority, which was established as a temporary organ, pending the inauguration of the Council. The PA, however, never transferred its power.

PLC versus PNC

While the PLC is elected by the Palestinians residing in the Palestinian territories, it is not the parliament of the State of Palestine. Accordingly, the Palestinian Authority is not the government of the State of Palestine, but the self-government of the inhabitants of the Territories. On the contrary, PLO is recognized by the United Nations as the Government of the State of Palestine. The PLO has its own parliament, the Palestinian National Council, which is formally chosen by the Palestinian people in and outside of the Palestinian Territories. Accordingly, the Executive Committee, formally elected by the PNC, is the official government of the State of Palestine on behalf of the PLO.

Pursuant to the PA's 1995 Elections Law No. 13, the 132 PLC members would automatically become members of the PNC. This was revoked, however, by the 2005 Elections Law No. 9, which does not mention the PNC at all. The 2007 Elections Law No. 2, issued in a decree from President Abbas, re-instated the determination (Article 4). As this PA legislation was neither enacted by the PLO or the PNC, their legal validity are questioned in a PLO document. The document also states that "as opposed to the PNC, the PLC only represents the Palestinian population of the Occupied Territory, and does not reflect the political will of the entire Palestinian People".

As Mahmoud Abbas as of July 2015 is the chairman of the Fatah-dominated PLO as well as of Fatah itself, and the disputed president of the Palestinian Authority (which calls itself the State of Palestine), the functions of the PLO and of the PA are not clearly distinguished. While both PLC and PNC are virtually defunct, the functions of both parliaments are performed by the PLO's Central Council.

Malfunction

From the beginning, the PLC was not able to function properly for a number of reasons:

  • Curtailment of the freedom of movement
  • In the months following the inauguration, members of the PLC (consisting of only Fatah members and moderate non-Fatah members) were subjected to restrictions on their freedom of movement by Israel, as reported by human rights group PCHR. They had to obtain a permit from the Israeli authorities for every single travel, valid for very short periods and sometimes refused.
  • In 2001, the European Parliament noticed in a resolution that "The Palestinian Legislative Council is more often than not hindered from attending the sessions"
  • Isolation from the outer world. Israel prevents official contacts with the outer world. Even the visit of members of the European Parliament to Gaza were denied.
  • Israeli interference with the composition of the PLC. Politicians disliked by Israel were, and still are, prevented from political activities, often by arresting them, holding them in detention for lengthy periods and without charge or trial. After the 2006 elections, Israel captured and detained high numbers of PLC members and ministers. By selectively capturing and detaining or even killing Hamas members, Israel changed the composition of the PLC significantly.
  • Splitting of the Palestinian Government into two entities after the 2007 Fatah–Hamas battle in Gaza. Since the separation, the Palestinian Legislative Council has not convened.
  • Divided views of the Palestinians towards the validity of the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap for peace. This weakens the position of the PLC.
  • PLC buildings

    In the West Bank, the PLC has two main buildings, one in Ramallah in the Ministry of Education, housing the Assembly Chambers, and the main administrative office of the PLC in al-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah. In Gaza, the headquarters is in Rimal, Gaza City.

    The PLC buildings have repeatedly been the target of Israeli attacks. In 2002, the headquarters in the West Bank were heavily damaged and equipment destroyed. In January 2009, the Gaza headquarters was bombed during Operation Cast Lead. The attacks were condemned by the UN Goldstone Mission, who called it a "grave breach of extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly" The building was destroyed in September 2009.

    In 2000, the construction of a PLC building was started in Abu Dis, but the project was never finished. In late December 2003, Israel started the construction of a separation wall just few meters away from the planned headquarters, separating Abu Dis from East Jerusalem.

    1996 elections

    On 20 January 1996, the first Palestinian Parliamentary elections were held. They were, however, boycotted by Hamas. Fatah won 62 of the 88 seats.

    Ahmed Qurei, former Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority from 7 October 2003 to 26 January 2006.

    2006 elections

    On 25 January 2006, the second elections took place. The European Union supplied election observers to "assess the whole election process, including the legal framework, the political environment and campaign, electoral preparations, voting and counting as well as the post-election period".

    References

    Palestinian Legislative Council Wikipedia