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Logo of Joint War Room, shared by Hamas and other organizations
On December 22, 2018, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that he will dissolve the Palestinian Parliament that was elected in accordance with the Oslo accords – the Legislative Council – following a decision of the Palestinian Constitutional Court. New elections will be held within six months from the date Mahmoud Abbas, as chairman of the Palestinian Authority, issues a presidential order.
What this means is that the West Bank and Gaza Strip will now enter into a constitutional battle that could presage a civil war and the use of violence between both sides on the West Bank.
Abbas has been trying for a long time to challenge Hamas with an authoritative constitutional source that would deprive that organization of its legality and legitimacy. He is attempting to revive the old PLO, but the old PLO organizations, such as the Popular and Democratic Fronts, and Islamic Jihad, as well as the other parties and civil society groups, stand by Hamas. With Hamas, they have established a joint war room, and recently they designed a shared logo, turning the ad hoc body formed to manage the riots at the border fence into an established institution that provides an alternative to the old PLO.
Mahmoud Abbas and his cabinet (Arab press)
Following the move of the other organizations toward Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas was not able to convene the PLO institutions in Ramallah, which very likely led to his resolution to dissolve the Legislative Council.
A few days earlier, Abbas met with Salim Zanoun, chairman of the PLO’s Palestinian National Council, and they presumably concluded that there are problems with the PLO’s operation as the body representing Palestinian legitimacy rather than Hamas.
More seriously, the Fatah organization has also started to lean toward Hamas, and gravest of all is that the Barghouti clan, which leads the Tanzim-Fatah faction in Ramallah, is the clan where the Hamas terrorists came from in the most recent attacks.
In any case, the Legislative Council has been paralyzed for a long time. When Hamas grabbed power in the 2006 elections, the Council was abandoned and has not convened since.
Mahmoud Abbas himself was elected in 2005 for a four-year term, but at this stage no one is talking about elections for a new chairman of the Palestinian Authority.