By Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute—-
Yesterday, March 2, Israeli voters headed to the ballot boxes for the tenth time since the signing of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians in 1993. The Palestinians, by contrast, have since had only four elections — two for the Palestinian Authority (PA) presidency and two for the Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
The last Palestinian election took place in 2006, when Palestinians voted for the PLC. Hamas, the Islamist movement ruling the Gaza Strip, won 44.4% of the vote (74 seats), while PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s rival Fatah faction won 41.4% of the vote (45 seats). The PLC has 132 seats.
One year after the PLC election, Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip after overthrowing Abbas’s PA regime. The Hamas coup led to a split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and has effectively paralyzed the Palestinian parliament ever since.
The Palestinians are the only people in the Middle East who do not have a functioning parliament. In 2018, Abbas decided to dissolve the PLC and said he would hold elections within six months. Abbas’s move drew sharp criticism from many Palestinians, who accused him of seeking to tighten his grip on the PA and its institutions.
The 84-year-old Abbas has not fulfilled his promise to hold a parliamentary election “within six months.” Who needs a parliament when you have a president who recently entered the 16th year of his four-year-term in office? Who needs pesky parliament members who may pester their president and government by asking uncomfortable questions or — even worse — criticizing the performance of the Palestinian leadership?
The absence of parliamentary life for the Palestinians has, in fact, been highly convenient for Abbas, who continues to demonstrate zero tolerance towards his political rivals and critics.
Just this week, Abbas ordered his security forces in the West Bank to arrest another Palestinian journalist, Ayman Kawarik, for posting critical comments on Facebook. Kawarik is far from the first Palestinian journalist to land in Abbas’s prisons for expressing his views. No one ever speaks critically of the Palestinian leadership. Continue Reading….