RAMALLAH, March 1 (JMCC) – A call to hold an emergency parliamentary session went unheeded Monday as Palestinian factions remained entrenched in a long-standing political confrontation. Aziz Dweik
, Hamas representative in the Palestinian legislature
and the speaker the faction recognizes, was barred from entering the legislative council building in Ramallah. Dweik had called an emergency session at 11 am to discuss Israel’s plan to invest in renovating two flashpoint religious shrines in Hebron and Bethlehem.
“The speaker of the council, Aziz Dweik, called this session of the council, which will witness the absence of the representatives of Fateh and some of the independent members because they don’t recognize Dweik as the head of the council,” said member Khalida Jarrar.
“In this situation, political division will prevent the success of the session because most of the members will boycott it.”
Speaking in a Gaza press conference after the initial session was barred, Hamas`s Ahmad Baher announced that a parliamentary session would be held on Wednesday at 11 am in the Gaza Strip and West Bank by phone if necessary.
The Palestinian legislative council has been paralyzed since Hamas took over Palestinian security installations in Gaza in 2007. The legislature has failed to meet for three years, only managing to gather for three months in 2006, immediately after elections. Even then, many of the Hamas members had been arrested in sweeps by Israel.
The Fateh minority in the council said Monday that Dweik no longer has the right to call a meeting of the council, given that that the parliament’s term expired in January.
“It is not possible for Dweik to act as speaker without a new session that would elect a new speaker,” said Fateh member Muhib Salameh.
NO ELECTIONS IN SIGHT
Another source who asked that his name not be used told JMCC that “the police are on alert, and I think they will not allow Dweik to enter and hold the session, as Fateh considers it illegal. Dweik might not even come because he finds it difficult to hold the session.”
The Hamas movement won January 2006 elections with a majority of 78 seats to Fateh’s 45. The parliament has been unable to pass any law for the last four years, due to the political divisions in its ranks. Laws passed by the Hamas majority early on in this council’s life were annulled by the executive branch, which has largely governed by presidential order in the absence of the council.
Palestinian law calls for the holding of parliamentary elections every four years. Both the president’s and council’s terms have expired, but no plans for holding elections in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are on the horizon.
Hamas remains in control of the Gaza Strip, and has said it will not allow elections to take place without a comprehensive political agreement between the factions.