PA bars Hamas speaker of parliament from Ramallah, since dissolution ‘in effect’
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PA bars Hamas speaker of parliament from Ramallah, since dissolution ‘in effect’

Aziz Dweik was set to give a press conference in the West Bank city criticizing Abbas’s decision to break up Palestinian Legislative Council

Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Aziz Dweik at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Aziz Dweik at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian police have barred the Hamas-affiliated speaker of the Palestinian Authority parliament from entering the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Speaker Aziz Dweik had been set to hold a press conference in Ramallah to criticize Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council, which is controlled by his rivals the Hamas terror group.

Palestinian police turned Dweik away from the city Wednesday, saying parliament’s dissolution “has come into effect” and “no one can say he is a speaker or member of the council.”

Abbas’s decision last week to disband the non-functioning parliament is mostly symbolic, signaling the deepening divide between his Fatah party and Hamas. The bitter split traces back to 2007, when Hamas wrested control of Gaza, relegating Fatah rule to parts of the Israeli-controlled West Bank.

Illustrative: Palestinian lawmakers attend an emergency session at the Palestinan Legislative Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 11, 2007 (Ahmad Gharabli/Flash90)

Since then, the Palestinian Legislative Council, where Hamas holds a majority after a 2006 landslide victory against Fatah, has been largely disabled. Officially breaking up the legislature simply maintains the already entrenched political divide between Gaza and the West Bank.

“We resorted to the Constitutional Court and the court decided to dissolve the PLC and called for parliamentary elections in six months and we have to execute this [decision] immediately,” Abbas told a Palestinian Liberation Organization meeting in Ramallah on Saturday.

Abbas first announced plans to dissolve the PA parliament earlier this month.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, attends a Christmas midnight mass at Saint Catherine’s Church in the Church of the Nativity, traditionally recognized by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on December 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, Pool)

He accused Hamas of blocking Egyptian efforts to restore Palestinian unity, a charge Hamas vehemently denies. Abbas says the dissolution of the parliament aims to pressure Hamas into accepting proposals for national reconciliation.

Egypt has brokered numerous deals to end the Palestinian split, but none has been fully implemented, with Hamas and Fatah trading blame over their failure.

In Gaza, Hamas lawmakers meet at the PLC, but most of independent members and other parliamentary blocs like Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine boycott the sessions to protest the disunity. The laws issued by Hamas legislators are limited to Gaza.

Yehiha Moussa, a Hamas lawmaker, warned that ending the PLC “destroys the political system and opens the door to chaos in the Palestinian arena.”

“This is a ready-made recipe for chaos,” he told The Associated Press.

Hamas is likely to ignore the court order, insisting that the PLC expires automatically when a new one is formed following general elections.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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