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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Democracy, 'Palestinian' Style

Shortly before the Hamas-controlled parliament took office, its Fatah-controlled predecessor transferred several significant powers to Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen. This was essentially a follow-up on an earlier power transfer to Abu Mazen, which was designed to reduce the power of then-Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Yesterday, the Hamas-controlled parliament took back some of its powers, putting the 'Palestinians' another step closer to civil war.

Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Abbas, accused Hamas of trying to stage a coup against the PA chairman. "Hamas is trying to change the regime in Palestine," he said. "We urge Hamas to reconsider its tactics which jeopardize national unity." [Ah yes, 'national unity.' The reason the 'Palestinians' won't fight terrorism. CiJ]

Angry Fatah legislators in Gaza City stormed out of the chamber in protest upon learning that the council was about to cancel the legislations. Later, dozens of Fatah gunmen marched toward the PLC building in Gaza City, firing into the air and calling on their party not to join a Hamas-led cabinet.

Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah bloc in parliament, said the Fatah legislators would not attend future meetings until Hamas respects the rule of law. "Hamas does not want to resolve this crisis," he said. "We have been trying to negotiate with them, but they don't want to listen. They only want to impose their will on everyone. This is undemocratic."

Earlier, Ahmed was nearly expelled from the session following a heated verbal exchange with PLC Speaker Aziz Dweik. Ahmed and most of the Fatah legislators rejected Dweik's decision to hold a vote on the legislations that were passed by the previous council.

The confrontation reached its peak when Dweik ordered PLC employees to disconnect Ahmed's microphone. In response, Ahmed and other Fatah legislators accused the speaker of adopting "dictatorial tactics and intimidation."

Dweik also managed to embarrass many of the secular Fatah legislators when he announced that the session would be adjourned for noon prayers. It was the first practice of its kind since the council was established in 1996. [This ties in with what I wrote yesterday about the rise of Islamism in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and in Israel generally. CiJ]


The controversial 11th-hour legislations, dubbed by Hamas as illegal, empowered Abbas to revoke laws and even to dissolve the PLC. They also gave Abbas the authority to appoint a new, nine-judge constitutional court without seeking legislative approval. [I hate Hamas, but even I can see why they might object to this sort of thing. This reminds me of US President John Adams, who tried to make a whole slew of last minute appointments after he lost the elections, only to have his successor, Thomas Jefferson, undo them. I don't think anyone in the US today would not take Jefferson's side. CiJ].

The court could also veto legislation deemed to violate the Basic Law, a forerunner to the Palestinian constitution. The court will also serve as an arbiter in the event of disputes between Abbas on the one hand and the Hamas-controlled cabinet and parliament on the other.

Hamas legislators pointed out that the new court would consist of Fatah-affiliated judges who were most likely to rule in favor of Abbas. The judges' role could be significant because they would have sweeping powers to revoke any law approved by parliament.

Another law that was canceled on Monday was one that changed the PLC's regulations so it would be possible to appoint a new secretary general from Fatah for the council to oversee the administrative management of the new parliament. The new secretary general, Ibrahim Khraisheh, was kicked out of his office last week by Dweik. In response, Fatah gunmen surrounded the PLC building in Ramallah and opened fire into the air. [This all sounds a lot more like Fatah's fault than Hamas'. Much as Hamas has an anti-Semitic, terror-filled agenda, there is little doubt that Fatah is corrupt. CiJ]


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