Palestinian Chief Abbas Threatens To Dissolve Legislative Council, Calls For Elections Within Six Months
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced plans to dissolve the largely-defunct Legislative Council and hold elections within six months. Chief PA rival Hamas, the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip and unceremoniously evicted Abbas’ Fatah faction from the enclave in an internecine war over a decade ago, denounced the move as “unconstitutional and irresponsible” and warned that it would sow chaos. Hamas controls what amounts to the Palestinian parliament, having secured a majority of mandates (74 out of 132 seats) in the last vote held across the West Bank and Gaza in 2006. A recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that if Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Abbas were to square off in elections held today, the former would win 49 percent of the ballots (up from 45% three month ago) compared to the latter’s 42% (down from 47% three months ago). With respect to parliamentary representation, the poll found Hamas and Fatah nearly deadlocked with the former projected to receive 35% of the vote (down from 36% three months ago) compared to the latter’s 34% (up from 27% three months ago). Accordingly, many analysts do not believe that Abbas will follow through with the initiative, which could lead to him being removed from office (though his mandate already expired about eight years ago), and instead is using whatever leverage he has to persuade Hamas to disarm and cede control over Gaza to the PA. A decade-long diplomatic effort to end the intra-Palestinian divide has produced numerous reconciliation agreements that never materialized.