The Basic Law, like constitutional legislation, defines the powers and responsibilities of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as well as the mandate of the PA president, the council of ministers, and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). It also regulates the PA security forces.
Given that the PLC has not met in a regular session since the 2007 West Bank-Gaza split, Mahmoud Abbas has increasingly legislated via presidential decrees.
In July 2017, President Abbas issued, via presidential decree, a new Law on Electronic Crimes which, amongst other things, could criminalise online criticism of the Palestinian Authority. In the first month following its publication, the law had reportedly been used to shut down some thirty websites, mostly affiliated with Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan. The law was also used to justify the detention of Palestinian activist Issa Amro in September 2017. Human rights organisations have continued to voice concern that amendments proposed by the Ministry of Justice in in December 2017 still fail to “safeguard Palestinian rights to freedom of expression, privacy and protection of data.”