Constitutional Court

In what was seen as a largely political move to consolidate power, Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree in April 2016 creating a Constitutional Court composed of nine judges drawn predominantly from his Fatah supporters. Although the Constitutional Court was foreseen in the Palestinian Authority's Basic Law, the timing and context of its activation is seen as a means of further constraining Abbas’s rivals and potentially creating a mechanism to anoint a future successor to the PA presidency.

In October 2016, the Constitutional Court backed Abbas’s decision to postpone municipal elections, ruling that these could no longer be held in Gaza given a lack of judicial “guarantees” from the Hamas-backed court system. In November 2016, the court once again ruled in Abbas’s favour, upholding his authority to revoke the parliamentary immunity of his Fatah rival Mohammad Dahlan and of four of his supporters in the PLC. On 12 December 2018, the Constitutional Court issued a decree dissolving the PLC and calling for legislative elections within 6 months -- by 12 May 2019.

Given its expansive powers, Abbas may attempt to use the Constitutional Court to rubber-stamp the creation of a PA vice-president that would take precedence over the PLC speaker (Hamas’s Aziz Duwaik) in any post-Abbas succession process.