West Bank: Demonstration by Palestinian lawyers against the decrees of Mahmoud Abbas

Hundreds of Palestinian lawyers staged a rare demonstration Monday in Ramallah, West Bank, against President Mahmoud Abbas’ perceived authoritarian power, denouncing his use of presidential decrees to govern.

“Yes to an elected Parliament”, “Yes to an independent judiciary”, “No to laws resulting from decrees”, could be read on placards brandished by the demonstrators near the office of Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, during this rally organized by the Palestinian Bar Association.

“Our demand is either to stop the application or to cancel” a series of restrictive laws adopted by decree, affirmed Suheil Ashour, president of the organization, considering that they restricted “the rights and freedoms” of the Palestinians.

Palestinian security forces blocked access to the prime minister’s office to prevent protesters from getting there.

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC, Parliament) has not sat since 2007 due to divisions between Hamas, a terrorist movement that took power in the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Abbas rules only by decree.

For Farhan Abou Aïsha, a lawyer, Mr. Abbas makes decisions “in the dark”. “The legislative power is absent in Palestine and the judicial authority is marginalized”, he regretted.

According to Palestinian jurists, President Abbas, 87, has issued some 400 decrees since he was elected in 2005. His term was due to end in 2009.

After calling legislative and presidential elections for April 2021, the first elections in 15 years, Mr. Abbas finally canceled them, arguing that the polls were not guaranteed in East Jerusalem.

In June 2021, the death of a human rights activist, Nizar Banat, while in custody by Palestinian forces, sparked a wave of protests against the Palestinian Authority, calling for the departure of President Abbas.

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