Reuters reports on a new move by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that could help solidify his rule even as Palestinian politics braces for a succession battle.
… Abbas has quietly established a constitutional court that analysts say concentrates more power in his hands and may allow him to sideline the Islamist group Hamas in the event of a succession struggle.
The nine-member body, which will have supremacy over all lower courts, was created without fanfare by presidential decree on April 3 and will be inaugurated once its ninth member is sworn in at a ceremony on Monday, officials said.
Critics say the body is packed with jurists from Abbas’s Fatah party and risks deepening Palestinian political divisions. Fatah says it is Abbas’s right to create the court, which it says is independent of the 81-year-old president….
Abbas’s decision comes at a time of worsening splits between Fatah and Hamas and as questions are raised about what will happen when the president steps down or if he were to die in office without a successor.
Abbas … was elected to a four-year term as president in 2005. But new elections were not held in 2009 and he continues to govern by decree. Parliament has not sat since 2007.