All open sessions will be suspended between 7 September and 7 October pending Arafat's approval of a series of laws passed months ago, and even years ago, but which the president had yet to sign, parliament Speaker Rawhy Fattuh told reporters.

 

"The council has decided to suspend its open sessions waiting for the executive authority to approve its laws and decisions," he told reporters in Ram Allah.

 

"We are concerned that no one is taking our council's decisions seriously," he said, adding that the lawmakers hoped the threat of the strike would change and improve the situation.

 

Fattuh said Arafat told him by phone that he will approve about a dozen bills the PLC has already passed in three readings and were waiting for Arafat's signature before they become laws.

 

Arafat informed the speaker he was waiting for one of his advisers to return to Gaza from Jordan in order for him to sign the PLC bills into laws.

 

The PLC rejected two weeks ago by one vote a similar strike call after Arafat told them he intended approving laws and supporting reforms the council has called for.

 

Tangible results?

Legislators now feel that the two weeks which have elapsed and a speech by Arafat calling for reforms have not produced anything tangible.

 

Palestinian Minister of Local Government Jamal Shubaki, meanwhile, issued a statement on Wednesday that elections for the local councils in the West Bank and Gaza would start 9 December.

 

The elections would be held over four different stages in order to overcome obstacles created by the Israeli reoccupation of the West Bank since July 2002, he said.