(JNS) Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has implemented measures that could turn the PA into a dictatorship, according to a new report, published just two weeks before the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords.
The report was authored by Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch, which has followed developments in the PA virtually since its inception in 1994. Over the past four years, the report states, “Abbas has made decisions and implemented fundamental changes to the Palestinian political system, the overall purpose of which is to completely abolish what is left of Palestinian democracy and replace the P.A.’s institutions with the Palestinian Liberation Organization.”
Abbas’s first step, according to the report, was to make structural changes in the PLO that gave him increased control. The Palestinian National Council, the PLO’s legislative body, has almost never convened. To ensure greater control, in 2018 Abbas ordered the PNC to transfer its authorities to the Palestinian Central Council, a much smaller body that is far easier to control.
In December 2018, Abbas dismantled the Palestinian Legislative Council, which functioned as a type of parliament after Hamas won the 2006 elections. Abbas promised that new parliamentary elections would be held six months after its dispersal, but these were never held.
In February 2019, Abbas spearheaded another change: He abandoned the PA’s constitution as the source of the PA’s executive power and replaced it with the PLO’s constitution— such that only the PLO could control the PA.
The last phase came in February 2022, when Abbas adopted a resolution ordering the PLO’s Executive Committee, which Abbas heads, to restructure the PA’s institutions. Even before then, in the first half of 2021, Abbas canceled the PA’s presidential elections, ensuring he would continue holding the position he has held since 2006 without elections.
“All international proposals that champion the creation of a Palestinian state emphasize that it needs to be democratic, but there’s nothing left of Palestinian democracy,” said attorney Maurice Hirsch, the head of legal strategies for PMW and editor of the report.
“The term ‘Palestinian democracy’ has always been an oxymoron, but it’s gotten worse recently,” said Hirsch.
“The steps taken by Abbas need to sound the alarm in every country that helps the Palestinians financially via the PA’s institutions. They want to believe they are granting aid to the Palestinian people, but essentially they are sustaining the PLO and solidifying Fatah’s hegemony. If the international community doesn’t intervene and demand from Abbas that he reverse his anti-democratic measures, Fatah’s dictatorial rule over the Palestinian Authority will be strengthened even more,” Hirsch concluded.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.