fatah gunmen great 298.8.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The crisis in the Palestinian Authority deepened on Sunday as the Palestinian Legislative Council failed to convene for the third time in the past two weeks for a vote of confidence on the government of Salaam Fayad.
In response, Hamas called on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to dismiss Fayad and appoint a new prime minister, saying the present government was "illegal."
"The term of Fayad's government has expired as far as the Palestinian constitution is concerned and Abbas must search for a new prime minister," said Ahmed Bahr of Hamas, who serves as acting speaker of the parliament.
The PLC session scheduled for Sunday was cancelled because the required quorum of 67 legislators was not met.
The failure of the council to convene poses a constitutional crisis for Fayad's government which, according to the PA Basic Law, must be approved by parliament.
Fatah legislators and representatives of other factions boycotted the meeting, forcing Bahr to call it off on the grounds that the required quorum had not been met.
Fayad himself arrived at the PLC chamber in Ramallah, but he and the Fatah legislators decided to boycott the session.
"Fayad's government is now facing a real constitutional crisis," said independent legislator Mustafa Barghouti. "The government needs the approval of the parliament so that it can carry out its duties." Hassan Khraisheh, deputy speaker of the PLC, said the only solution to the current crisis was reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. He said Sunday's session was called by Fayad with the hope that the council would vote in favor of his government.
Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah parliamentary list, accused the Hamas-controlled administration of the PLC of siding with the Hamas militiamen who staged a "coup" against Fatah in the Gaza Strip last month.
Meanwhile, Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal warned that his movement was running out of patience following the arrest of dozens of Hamas members in the West Bank by Abbas's forces.
"What is happening in the Gaza Strip is unfortunate," he said. "But we warn all against underestimating Hamas's power in the West Bank. Hamas is very strong there. Anyone who thinks that Hamas is weak in the West Bank is making the same mistake that others made in the past."
In yet another blow to Abbas, a spokesman for a Fatah armed group announced on Sunday that his men would not hand over their weapons to the PA security forces.
"We won't stop the struggle against the Israeli occupation and we won't surrender our weapons," said the spokesman, Abu Muhammad, who represents a group calling itself the Abu Ammar Brigades.
He said his group does not recognize the so-called Israeli amnesty for the Fatah fugitives in the West Bank. "We're not criminals to deserve a pardon from Israel," he said. "We are here to resist the occupation and this is our natural right."