Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said late Saturday evening that the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council will soon be dissolved, Palestine’s official news agency reported.
Addressing a conference in the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Abbas announced that the council would be dissolved “in a legal manner,” without giving a date for the move, which is likely to be opposed by Hamas.
Rather than Abbas’ Fatah movement, its rival the Hamas movement holds most of the seats on the council. The council was disrupted following the Palestinian administrative division of 2007, when two competing Palestinian governments emerged.
Of the council’s 132 seats, 76 are held by Hamas, Fatah has 43, and the left wing and independents hold the remaining 13.
Fatah Central Committee member Dalal Salameh told Anadolu Agency in May that the Palestinian National Council (PNC) – the legislative body of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) – was discussing the mandate of the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) to carry out the powers of the Legislative Council.
The Central Council is a permanent body of the PLO-affiliated PNC, the highest representative legislative body of the Palestinian people, which includes the Palestinian factions, except Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
On more than one occasion, Hamas has declared its refusal to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council, saying Abbas has no power to dissolve it.
The Palestinian Basic Law provides for the holding of parliamentary elections every four years, but the last parliamentary polls took place in 2006, over a dozen years ago.
The West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip have remained politically divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of Gaza from rival group Fatah following several days of bloody street fighting.
Hamas’s capture of Gaza in 2007 ended a short-lived unity government established after Hamas swept the 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.
Since then, Hamas has been in control of the blockaded strip’s border crossings.
This October, Hamas and Fatah signed a landmark reconciliation agreement in Cairo aimed at ending 10 years of bitter division.
If it holds, the agreement will allow the Fatah-led Ramallah government to assume political and administrative responsibility for the Gaza Strip.