Palestinian Legislative Council
|Palestinian Legislative Council |
المجلس التشريعي الفلسطيني
Al-Majlis al-Tashrī'iyy al-Filasṭīniyy
|2nd Legislative Council|
Leader of the Opposition
Hamas (74) |
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (3)
Palestinian National Initiative (2)
Third Way (2)
Palestinian People's Party (1)
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (1)
|Parallel Additional Member System|
|25 January 2006|
http://www.pal-plc.org/ (West Bank government)
|1 On account of the current crisis, the operations of the Council have become confused. Duwaik was clearly Speaker until 2009, at which point he claimed the Presidency by virtue of the expiry of Mahmoud Abbas' term and the absence of new elections for President.|
The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is the parliament of the Palestinian inhabitants of the Palestinian territories. It is a unicameral body with 132 members, elected from 16 electoral districts of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank and Gaza.
It served as the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority. The PLC has limited power and responsibilities, restricted to civil matters and internal security in Area A of the West Bank and in Gaza. The PLC was inaugurated for the first time on 7 March 1996 and served until the split of Hamas and Fatah in 2007; the PLC stopped its operation in the Gaza Strip entirely in 2009. 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 new law in June 2005 increasing the number of members from 88 to 132, stipulating 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 expected to take place sometime in 2014 but has been delayed indefinitely.
The emblem used for the Palestinian Legislative Council is referred to as the "Eagle of Saladin."
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 Occupied 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. The 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 choosen by the Palestinian people in and outside of the OPT. Accordingly, the Executive Committee, formally elected by the PNC, is the official government of the State of Palestine. However, pursuant to the 1995 PA Elections Law No. 13, yet repealed by the 2005 PA Elections Law No. 9, the 132 PLC members would automatically become members of the PNC.
As Mahmoud Abbas 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 distinguised. While both PLC and PNC are virtually defunct, the functions of both parliaments are performed by the PLO's Central Council.
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.
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.
On 20 January 1996, the first Palestinian Parliamentary elections were held. They were, however, boycotted by Hamas. Fatah won 62 of the 88 seats.