Parliaments, among the strongest manifestations of a democracy, represent the electorate, enact laws and oversee the government through hearings and inquiries.
Apparently, this does not apply to the Palestinians, who, as a result of the power struggle between Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, have, for the past 11 years, been without a functioning parliament.
The Palestinian Authority’s unicameral legislature is the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Both the PA and PLC were established after the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993. The first Palestinian legislative election took place in January 1996. The second, and last, election took place in January 2006; it resulted in a victory for Hamas.
In 2007, Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip and toppled the Palestinian Authority regime that was there. Since then, the Palestinian parliament has not been functioning properly, although Hamas legislators sometimes meet separately in the Gaza Strip. In the absence of a functioning parliament, Abbas has been passing laws by “presidential decree.” Several Palestinians have questioned their legality and accused the Palestinian leader of violating Palestinian Basic Law.