Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)

The Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) was created as part of the Oslo Accords as the legislative branch of the Palestinian Authorty (PA) and is meant to represent Palestinians residing in OPT (i.e. Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem). The PLC approves the PA’s budget, and can pass motions of no confidence against the government.

On 22 December 2018, Mahmoud Abbas announced that the Constitutional Court had issued a decree dissolving the PLC and calling for legislative elections within 6 months (by mid-May 2019). Shortly after, Saeb Erekat called for the PLC to be replaced by a new “constituent assembly of the State of Palestine”. Hamas condemned the move as illegal and unconstitutional -- although it left open the door for "'consensual general elections' in case Fatah pledges to accept their results whatever they are."

The PLC comprises 132 seats, based on a mixed electoral system by which 50 percent of seats are elected through the majority system (districts) and the other 50 percent of seats are elected through the proportional representation system (lists). Legislative elections have been held twice: in 1996 (won by Fatah) and 2006 (won by Hamas).

The current distribution of PLC seats is: Hamas “Change and Reform Bloc” (74); Fatah (45); PFLP (3); PNI (2); Third Way (2); DFLP (1); PPP (1); Independents (4). In theory, the current PLC’s mandate expired in 2010.

As of March 2019, there were 7 PLC members imprisoned by Israel, the majority of them held without charge or trial – these include Ahmad Sadaat (PFLP), and Marwan Bargouthi (Fatah). In December 2016 Abbas lifted parliamentary immunity from his Fatah rival and PLC member Mohammed Dahlan, along with four other PLC members seen to support him.

The PLC has not met in a regular session since the 2007 West Bank-Gaza split. With the PA legislative and oversight process effectively frozen, Mahmoud Abbas has increasingly ruled through presidential decrees. According to the PA's Basic Law, the president "shall have the right, in cases of necessity that cannot be delayed, and when the Legislative Council is not in session, to issue decrees that have
the power of law."

The Hamas ‘Change and Reform’ bloc has continued to convene as the PLC in Gaza. A Change and Reform bloc meeting at the PLC in Gaza in August 2017 was attended by Fatah members opposed to Abbas led by Mohammed Dahlan (who appeared via video conference).

The protocols for holding of PLC elections – including in Jerusalem – are set out in Annex 2 of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement (Oslo II). The PLC’s term limit is four years.

 

Photo by Magister via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0.