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Middle East
Palestinian parliament in deadlock
Both Fatah and Hamas boycott parliamentary session in Ramallah.
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2007 10:44 GMT

The president appointed Fayyad, centre, prime minister without parliament's approval [AFP]

The Palestinian parliament has again failed to convene, further adding to the political stalemate between Fatah and Hamas.

 

Legislators on Sunday were due to vote on the interim government of Salam Fayyad, appointed prime minister by the president after violent in-fighting left Hamas in effective full control of the Gaza Strip last month.

Citing the continued deadlock, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, plans to issue decrees this week calling for early parliamentary and presidential elections over objections from Hamas.
The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), a 132-member body representing the West Bank and Gaza, requires 67 members present to form a quorum.

Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent, said less than half the required politicians turned up for the session in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday.

She said: "Today's PLC meeting is just a continuation of the political deadlock in the Palestinian Legislative Council. It's really a reflection of the status quo in Palestinian politics."

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After legislators dispersed on Sunday without convening, Fayyad said: "I wanted to present my government to the legislative council [parliament] in line with the law, but apparently it has failed to implement this constitutional duty."

Sunday's parliamentary boycott was led by Fatah and other factions which support Fayyad but dispute the legality of Hamas's call for the session to be held.

There is a disagreement between the blocs about what kind of session should be taking place in order to give Fayyad's government a vote of confidence.

Legally, according to the Bureau of the Legislative Council, this should be the first session of the second term.

The start of the second term would require the election of a new bureau for the PLC, including for the position of parliamentary speaker - who is the chairman of parliament and replaces the prime minister if he is unable to perform his duties.

Emergency session

Hamas won a majority of the seats in parliament in the January 2006 election, but Israel has since arrested about 45 of the group's 74 members of parliament.

As it can no longer assemble a majority, Hamas stands to lose the speaker position.

For that reason and many others, Hamas insists that this is an emergency session and that it does not need to hold PLC bureau elections.

So any session called for by Hamas is effectively boycotted by the Fatah bloc and any session called for by Fatah is being boycotted by the Hamas bloc.

Odeh said: "Effectively the Palestinian parliament is now in paralysis.

"There is probably no foreseen way for this parliament to meet, and that's why the argument for early parliamentary elections is gaining ground even among some non-Fatah members in the legislative council who say there's no way to end this deadlock."

Rule by decree

Abbas has seized on the parliament's inability to function as legal grounds for ruling by decree since Gaza's takeover.

The parliament failed to convene [Reuters]
The president appointed Fayyad's government without parliament's approval after sacking Ismail Haniya, of Hamas, and his cabinet last month.

Hamas's acting parliamentary speaker, Ahmed Bahar, on Sunday accused Abbas of violating the Palestinian Basic Law, which functions as a constitution, saying Haniya remained prime minister and the law required Abbas to replace Fayyad within two weeks.

Riyad al-Malki, information minister in Fayyad's government, said: "The Basic Law does not have answers or explanations for what happens next if the [parliament] continues to fail to give the government a vote of confidence. Therefore, the best solution would be for the president to seek advice from the high court or the constitutional court."

The main authors of the Basic Law have said that Abbas has overstepped his authority and must obtain parliamentary approval to keep Fayyad's government in place.

Abbas's aides said the president had the power to issue decrees with the force of law while the Palestinian legislature was not in session.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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