When President Abbas announced he would commence early elections, some
say he was breaking the law. Palestinian Minister of Justice and
Professor of Constitutional Law at An Najah University, Dr. Ahmed
Khalidi, confirmed that under Palestinian Basic Law there is no legal
authority to hold early elections.
Head of the Lawyers Union Ahmed Sayyad said that elections are a democratic rotation of power and therefore this deviation from the Constitution is not permissible, unless there were a provision in the Basic Law that gives the right to dissolve the elected Legislative Council. And he says that there is a way around that.
Dr. Khalidi pointed out that the call for early elections contravenes the Basic Law also in that the people are the source of the authority and their exercisable rights must be based on the principle of the separation of the powers and that authority.
According to the Basic Law, Article 38 states that the terms of reference are restricted in this law to the President of the Palestinian Authority. There is no text that legitimizes this act for the Legislative Council, and there is simply no legal authority to hold early elections in the PLC. He said that by using the recourse of early elections in the absence of a constitutional provision means that those calling for early elections are attempting to use the law to resolve a political dispute.
Dr. Khalidi was speaking at a lecture organized by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University in Ramallah which was attended by many students, professors, and Palestinian figures. Dr. Samer Alvarez, Director of the Institute, thanked the distinguished guests for their presence and explained that the policy of the Institute is to focus on legal issues.
For his part, the head of the Lawyers Union, Ahmed Sayyad, said that Article 5 of the Palestinian Basic Law says that the basis of the system of governance in Palestine is a Parliamentary Democratic System and the ultimate authority lies with the President who, if he finds that the people back a decision to hold early elections in order to defend their rights and opinions, then it is legitimate. Sayyad said that there is also legal authority to hold early elections in the interest of public security.
However, he said that the point will remain controversial because there is no clear provision in the Basic Law and that those in opposition have a clear case in challenging the constitutionality of holding early elections.