PCHR Organises Workshop on Palestinian Legislative Council
Date: 29 June, 2002
On 29 June, PCHR sponsored “The Current Challenges and Mechanisms for Facing these Challenges,” a workshop on the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The workshop was held in the al-Nuseirat Sporting Club in the central Gaza strip, with PLC members Dr. Ibrahim Habaash and Jamila Sadim. Journalists, lawyers, and representatives of civil society were also in attendance.
PCHR researcher Tariq al-Hanafi opened the workshop by mentioning that it was part of the PCHR’s efforts to follow the work of the PLC and that the workshop was intended to deepen relations between the people and their representatives. Al-Hanafi affirmed that the creation of the PLC in 1996 is considered a historical step in the history of the Palestinian people, as it was the first elected parliament of the Palestinian people. Al-Hanafi reviewed the work of the PLC over the past six years, mentioning that it had succeeded in passing many important laws and in establishing a uniform legal system across the West Bank and Gaza strip. Unfortunately, the longtime failure of the PNA executive to ratify important laws such as the Basic Law and the Judiciary Law until recently has hindered such efforts.
Dr. Habaash presented the internal and external obstacles facing the PLC in its work. External factors include the siege and closure imposed by Israeli occupying forces, which severely restrict the movement of PLC members and make it impossible to hold regular meetings. On the internal level, he highlighted the PNA executive’s ongoing rejection of norms such the separation of powers, transparency, and accountability. Both factors have weakened the Council and negatively affected the establishment of a democratic system based on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
Ms. Sadim described the PLC as an expression of the right of the Palestinian people to an independent, viable, and sovereign state. She declared that the PLC had accomplished much in its first two years, but its performance had since deteriorated as some members had become subservient to the PNA executive or to their own self-interest, at the expense of the PLC. She also mentioned the Israeli siege as a major obstacle faced by the PLC. Sadim noted that the PLC speaker is a member of the PLO negotiating team and that at least 23 members are also ministers in the PNA cabinet, undermining the PLC’s ability to effectively monitor the executive and to hold it accountable.
The presentations were followed by a question and answer session in which many important issues were raised.