The Palestinian Authority and the Constitutional Bodies

Palestine has been occupied by Israel since June 1967 and parts of the area have been under limited Palestinian self-government by the Palestinian Authority since May 1994(PA = Palestinian Authority). In the A areas (currently 17.2% of the West Bank), the PA is responsible for civil administration and internal security during the day. In the B regions (23.8% of the West Bank) the PA is responsible for civil administration and Israel for internal security. In area C (settler roads, nature reserves, the Israeli settlements, military facilities and other security-relevant areas, which make up 59% of the area), the PA is only responsible for education and health care. Approval of such infrastructure is, however, a matter for the Israeli civil administration. Israel is responsible for all land-related matters such as land allocation, planning and construction, infrastructure and water, as well as internal security.

According to APARENTINGBLOG, the Palestinian Basic Law, which came into force in 2002 and was changed in 2003 with the introduction of the position of Prime Minister, defines Palestine as a constitutional, parliamentary democracy with party pluralism and a classic separation of powers.

The President of the Palestinian Authority, currently Mahmoud Abbas, is directly elected by the people. He is the commander-in-chief of the Palestinian security forces, selects the prime minister (and can also dismiss him) and has the task of promulgating the laws passed by parliament. In exceptional cases outside the session of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the President can make decisions and issue decrees that have the force of law.

Legislative power is officially exercised by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The PLC controls the executive and brings in legislative proposals. The newly formed government has to submit to a vote of confidence by the council and can also be dismissed by its vote of no confidence. However, since June 2007 the PLC has not met and the country is governed by presidential decrees. In addition, numerous MPs, mainly Hamas members, have been in Israeli custody since the summer of 2006.

On December 12, 2018, the Palestinian Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the Legislative Council, which had been inoperative for eleven years, and called for new elections within six months. The decision was announced by President Mahmoud Abbas on December 22, 2018. Numerous Palestinian groups and individuals criticized it.

Yehya Musa, a senior Hamas official and member of the PLC, said the decision deepened the internal Palestinian divide and destroyed the Palestinian political system.

Majed Arruri, Director of the Civil Commission for the Independence of Justice and Rule of Law (ISTIQLAL) is convinced that the 83-year-old president is trying to prevent Parliament President and member of Hamas Aziz Dweik from assuming this office under Article 37, Paragraph 2 of the Palestinian Basic Law temporarily takes over if Abbas should no longer be able to exercise his office.

Palestinian civil society organizations and the Palestinian Independent Commission on Human Rights emphasized in a position paper that the decision was unconstitutional. According to Article 113 of the Basic Law, the dissolution of parliament is not even planned in the event of an emergency. The decision violates the principles of the rule of law, the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary as the basis of good and responsible governance. It would set a dangerous precedent for the dissolution of future parliaments and pose a serious threat to the Palestinian political system as a whole. The organizations called on Mahmoud Abbas to reverse the decision to create the Supreme Constitutional Court and to set a date for simultaneous general elections based on national consensus and electoral law, as well as elections to the Palestinian National Council.

The implications of the decision are not yet entirely clear. However, it seems more likely that Mahmoud Abbas’s political move will help deepen the divide between Fatah and Hamas rather than overcome them.

The Prime Minister, Mohammad Shteyyeh since March 10, 2019, is responsible to the President and the Legislative Council for his actions and the actions of the Cabinet according to the constitution. The cabinet draws up general policy, draws up a budget, reviews the implementation of laws and the work of ministries, and can propose legislation to the legislative council.

Palestinian coat of arms

The coat of arms of the Palestinian Authority shows the colors of the Palestinian flag on a shield carried by Saladin’s eagle. It is strongly based on Egyptian models.

Palestinian flag

The flag of Palestine is black, white, green with a red triangle on the flagpole. It has its origins in the flag of the Arab revolt from 1916 to 1918 against the Ottomans. It was used in the Arab national movement as early as 1917. In 1964, the PLO declared it the Palestinian national flag. The color black stands for the Arab-Islamic dynasty of the Abbasids, white stands for that of the Omayyads, green for that of the Fatimids. Red is the color of the Hashemites, among other things.

Palestinian national anthem

The national anthem is called “Biladi” (My Country) and was introduced by the Palestinian National Council in 1996.

The Palestinian Authority