Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Whose Coup, Exactly?

Abbas's appointing a new prime minister was itself entirely illegal. The new 'emergency government' is illegal, too. According to the Basic Law of Palestine (as amended in 2003), which serves as the constitution of the PA, Abbas can do neither of these things. Nor can the new 'emergency government' claim any democratic mandate. This means that Abbas and the Fayyad government are ruling by decree, outside the framework of the Basic Law. So on what basis is that government supposed to govern -- and on what basis are foreign governments supposed to deal with it?

According to the Basic Law, Abbas has violated a whole stream of Articles as well as the spirit of its checks and balances, which were designed during the Arafat era partly to limit the power of the presidency. With full US and Israel support (if not their insistence), Abbas has baldly trashed numerous provisions of the Basic Law, including:
  • The President can sack his Prime Minister (Article 45) but he cannot legally appoint a new Prime Minister that does not represent the majority party (i.e., Hamas).
  • In the event that a President sacks the PM, the Government is considered to have resigned (Article 83), but the serving Cabinet (here, the Hamas-led Cabinet) is supposed to govern until a new Cabinet is confirmed by the Legislative Council (Article 78).
  • Only the Legislative Council can confirm the new PM and Cabinet and the new officials cannot take their oaths (Article 67) or assume their duties (Article 79) until this is done. We might now look for the Fayyad government to go to the Legislative Council for post hoc approval, but if the Legislative Council cannot vote for lack of a quorum -- because too many of its members are in jail or refuse to participate -- then the Cabinet cannot be legally confirmed. The Basic Law provides no remedy for conditions where the Legislative Council cannot vote to confirm the Cabinet or the actions of the President.
  • The President can rule by degree during emergencies (Article 43) but the Legislative Council must approve all these decrees at its first meeting.
  • The President cannot suspend the Legislative Council during a state of emergency (Article 113).
  • The President has no power to call early elections, either.
  • The Basic Law has no provision whatsoever for an "emergency government."

Complete Article


Anonymous said...

Yeah Abbas violates laws. Hamas also violates the basic rights humans hold dear by sponsoring attacks against civilians. Then when Israelis respond and Palestinians die (because that is a fact of states of war and Palestinians put their children around terrorists for some reason) they complain about how Israel is evil. All Palestinian governments are whack.

Anonymous said...

Israel violates international law, and violates the sanctity of basic human life and still cries "victim". Apache warplanes fire indiscriminately at Palestinians which explains merciless killing of innocent children. Israel is evil. Israel even did business with apartheid South Africa when the majority of the world shunned South Africa. But that shouldn't be so suprising