Hamas could legally impeach Abbas

Move would be possible if proposed by at least two-thirds of Palestinian Legislative Council members.

January 29, 2006 03:25
2 minute read.
abbas dyspeptic uncomfortable 88

abbas dyspeptic 88. (photo credit: )


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The new Hamas-controlled parliament could easily impeach Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for treason and remove him from his post. The "Third Draft of the Constitution of the State of Palestine" states that such a move would be possible if it is proposed by at least two-thirds of the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Hamas won 76 of the 132 seats in the council and enjoys the support of at least another five lawmakers who ran as independents in last week's parliamentary election. The constitution also grants the parliament the power to put the "president" on trial. "Impeachment of the president of the state for treason, breach of the Constitution or for committing a felony, should be proposed by one-third of members of the House of Representatives," the article says. "The decision to impeach shall not be declared unless it is supported by not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House. Upon declaring the decision of impeachment, the president shall promptly cease performing any of his duties and shall be tried before the Constitutional Court." Hamas has always referred to the Oslo Accords as an act of treason and some leaders have openly called for putting those Palestinians who negotiated and signed the deal with Israel on trial for "high treason." The constitution, on the other hand, restricts the powers of the president, especially with regards to international treaties and financial matters. The constitution states that the prime minister alone would be responsible for signing international treaties. As the largest party, Hamas's Change and Reform List would choose a prime minister. Ismail Haniyeh, head of the list, is widely tipped to become the new prime minister. As such, Haniyeh or any other Hamas prime minister would be the only one authorized to sign treaties with Israel or other countries. "The prime minister, or any minister delegated by him, shall negotiate international treaties," the constitution stipulates. "The president of the state shall be informed of the course of negotiations. Conclusion of international treaties shall require approval of the Council of Ministers and accreditation of the president of the state." Under the constitution, Abbas enjoys mostly ceremonial powers. Most decisions and decrees must be signed jointly by him and by the prime minister. Abbas also has no power to appoint ambassadors. One article in the constitution states that "The president of the state, on the proposal of the minister of foreign affairs, shall accredit ambassadors and envoys extraordinary to foreign powers, international and regional organizations, and he shall terminate their term of office." With regards to the security forces, the constitution describes the "president of the state" as the "higher commander-in-chief of the Palestinian National Security forces, which shall be headed inclusively by a delegated minister." However, another article in the constitution says that the police force would be part of the Ministry of the Interior. The Palestinian security forces consist largely of Fatah policemen and activists. These forces and their commanders are unlikely to accept a situation where a Hamas minister or cabinet tells them what to do.

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