The Palestinian Constitutional Court ruled Sunday that President Mahmoud Abbas can revoke the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers, which will allow him to expel various political opponents. The ruling upheld Abbas’ 2012 revocation of Mohammad Dahlan’s immunity; Dahlan is considered Abbas’ potential successor and lives in self-imposed exile to avoid charges of corruption [Reuters report]. The decision has been condemned by Abbas’ opponents, who claim that the decision would effectively allow him to cancel the role of the Palestinian legislative council.
The judicial system in Palestine [BBC backgrounder] has given rise to internal criticism. In April Abbas established the controversial constitutional court [JURIST report]. Those that opposed the creation point out that Abbas stacked the court in his favor by appointing justices from his own political party widening the split between the Fatah and Hamas political groups. In August Human Rights Watch released a report [JURIST report] that detailed five cases in Gaza and the West Bank where journalists and activists were arrested or detained by authorities due to their peaceful criticism of authorities. Activists suggested that court proceedings are used as a means to harass them into silence as they are often delayed and rescheduled due to lack of witnesses, which requires their constant presence at the court. In May a UN spokesperson urged Gaza to end the use of the death penalty [JURIST report] as the UN feels that Gaza’s standard in execution cases is lacking.