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Abbas says he will dissolve Palestinian parliament, angering Hamas

Abbas's term was meant to expire in 2009, but he has remained in office [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 December, 2018

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The step would allow Abbas to further pressure Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he intended to dissolve the largely defunct Palestinian parliament controlled by his rivals Hamas following a court decision ordering the move.

Abbas did not say when the Ramallah-based Palestinian Constitutional Court issued the ruling that includes holding elections within six months of the Palestinian Legislative Council being dissolved.

"The issue reached the Constitutional Court which issued a verdict to dissolve the legislative council and call for legislative elections within six months, and this is what we must implement immediately," Abbas said when meeting members of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

The step would allow Abbas to further pressure Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

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 by phone.

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

Though the parliament has not met since 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian law allows for its speaker to act as interim president should 83-year-old Abbas die in office.

Hamas won the last parliamentary elections in 2006 in a landslide, resulting in an electoral dispute with Abbas's Fatah.

The split between them persists and has defied several reconciliation attempts.

Abbas, whose Fatah is based in the occupied West Bank, has sought to pressure Hamas in recent months by reducing salaries in the Gaza Strip, which is under an Israeli blockade, among other moves.

His administration has opposed recent arrangements that have seen Israel allow Qatar to provide millions of dollars in aid for salaries and fuel in the Gaza Strip, bypassing Abbas's Palestinian Authority.

Egypt has been seeking to reconcile Hamas and Fatah, but a range of issues have kept the two sides apart, including Hamas's refusal to disarm its military wing.

Abbas's term was meant to expire in 2009, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections.

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