[JURIST] In its final session before dissolution, the lame-duck Palestinian Parliament [official website] Monday gave Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] the authority to appoint a constitutional court empowered to cancel any law approved by the newly-elected Hamas-led assembly considered contrary to the Palestinian Constitution [text]. The move is seen by many to be a concerted effort by the old assembly, dominated by Abbas' Fatah Party [party website], to strengthen Abbas' authority and thwart potential conflicts that will likely arise after the new parliament is sworn in Thursday. Hamas leaders immediately condemned the 11th-hour move. Incoming legislator Abdel Aziz Duaik said "I think this session was illegal. It is a kind of bloodless coup." The new law is not definitively entrenched, but would require a 2/3 vote of new members to change it, and observers doubt that Hamas could muster that level of parliamentary support.
Hamas [ICT profile] gained control of parliament after its surprise victory [JURIST report] during last month's elections. The win is viewed as a major victory for the group, but could hinder peace efforts in the Middle East. The European Union, the United States and other countries view Hamas as a terrorist organization, and the group has been linked to many deadly terror attacks and calls for the destruction of the Israeli state. The Israeli government has taken the position that it will not deal with the incoming Palestinian government. AP has more.