Since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Legislative Council at the end of 2018, the Palestinians have fallen into a crisis called “the vacancy of the president’s position in the event of his absence,” and thus there is no one to represent him in his absence.
It was assumed that this imbalance would be resolved immediately after the election of a new legislative council and the inauguration of its presidency at the end of this May. However, the train of the legislative elections was disrupted by President Abbas’s announcement a few days ago that they would be postponed indefinitely. Age, being over 85 years of age, and the unavailability of the position of Vice President in the Palestinian government. Read also The Palestinian scene after Abbas The battle of Abbas’s succession … repercussions and possibilities Countdown to the succession of Abbas Israeli expert: Fatah may witness assassinations to inherit Abbas
The postponement also included the presidential elections that were scheduled for the end of July, and the elections for the National Council, the highest body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, due to the absence of the possibility of other candidates reaching the Palestinian presidency.
Article (37) of the Palestinian Basic Law stipulates that the position of the President of the Authority is considered vacant in cases of “death, resignation, or in case of loss of legal capacity.” And if the position of the head of the Authority becomes vacant in any of these cases, the President of the Legislative Council shall assume the duties of presiding over the Authority for a period of no time. More than 60 days during which elections are held to choose a new president.
This actually happened upon the death of President Yasser Arafat in November 2004, when the Speaker of the Legislative Council at that time, Rawhi Fattuh, assumed the presidency of the Palestinian Authority for 60 days, until President Mahmoud Abbas was elected in early January 2005. The Palestinians did not witness any presidential elections. since then.
There is no way to transfer power
Ahmed Khalidi, an expert in constitutional law and one of those involved in drafting the Basic Law with the inception of the Palestinian Authority, says that the Palestinian legal situation is experiencing legislative chaos unparalleled in all systems.
Al-Khalidi asserts that a peaceful means for the transfer of power in the event of the president’s illness, death, or resignation is not currently available, and that threatens the smooth transition of power without problems, especially in light of the occupation of the Palestinian people and the existence of various political groups and armed groups affiliated with it, as well as the existence of conflicting groups over Public centers.
The constitutional expert stresses that the Basic Law does not allow the appointment of the president according to the frameworks of the PLO, but added that “political life in Palestine no longer adheres to the Basic Law for a long time. Amendments have already been made to the law through political agreements outside the scope of the constitution, such as amending the election law and adopting a system.” Full relativism and the abolition of the right to run as an individual, even though the Basic Law guarantees it. “We have breaches that make everything expected.”
As a result, Khalidi says that within 15 years of the absence of the legislative institution and the suspension of the law, the Palestinian political system has changed from a representative, democratic, pluralistic system based on separation of powers to a presidential system in which all powers are in the hands of the president.
The only solution
In an attempt to avoid an inconsistent transfer of power, the director of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, Ammar Dweik, calls for an early setting of a new date for the Palestinian elections. Advertising
Dweik stressed that a new date for the elections be set before the end of the year, and called for the formation of a government of national unity with a broad mandate whose task would be to follow the course of holding the elections as soon as possible.
Dweik told Al-Jazeera Net that the postponement of the elections reinforces fears that the Palestinians will fall into a constitutional and political crisis in the event that the office of the president is vacated for any reason, stressing that any other alternatives outside the constitutional framework specified by the Basic Law will not give sufficient legitimacy to the position of the new president, while The only solution is a speedy return to the election track to ensure a peaceful and legal transfer of power.
Dweik refers here to the possibility of installing the new president within the frameworks of the PLO leadership “contrary to the Basic Law.” However, a member of the PLO Executive Committee Wasel Abu Youssef told Al-Jazeera Net that the PLO could fill this gap.
The Palestinian Authority – according to Abu Yusef – is “an arm of the PLO, the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
Abu Youssef says that the PLO is the one who created the authority, and that it has the decision on everything related to it, and it has its measures in the event that any leadership position becomes vacant.
It is known that Abbas, along with his presidency of the Palestinian Authority, is also the head of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the organization’s highest hierarchy.
Abu Yusuf says that the dissolution of the vacancy of the president’s position will be a consensus issue within the organization’s frameworks, especially in the organization’s executive committee and its central council.
No vice president
There is nothing in Palestinian law that allows the creation of the position of Vice President, despite a previous attempt referred to by the legal expert Essam Abdeen, which was at the end of the term of the first Legislative Council (elected in 1996 and continued until early 2006).
According to Abdin, who at the time held the position of the legal advisor to the Council, a bill proposed by the Legal Committee days before the new legislative elections (January 2006) sought to amend the Basic Law to allow the creation of the position of Vice President of the Authority, while giving powers to the President to dissolve the Legislative Council and expand its powers Specified in the Basic Law, but the bill did not pass due to the inability to complete the quorum for the last sessions of the first Legislative Council.
However, Abdeen also made it clear that the system of government in Palestine is representative, and the position of vice president is usually found in presidential systems such as the American system, where the vice president takes his place in the event of his absence for any reason whatsoever.
In light of this situation, the Palestinians fear a state of chaos if President Abbas is absent, which may allow people or forces to control the president’s position or fight over him, or to be imposed by outside interference.