Palestinian lawyers strike sees Abbas abolish controversial decrees

Palestinian lawyers strike sees Abbas abolish controversial decrees
The controversial decrees led to strikes from Palestinian lawyers.
3 min read
West Bank
11 August, 2022
The PA has been making laws by decrees ratified by Abbas since 2007 [Getty]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally abolished on Wednesday a series of controversial laws-by-decree issued in March, as well as amending penal, commercial, and judicial procedure laws.
The u-turn came after 40 days of protest by thousands of Palestinian lawyers, including a strike called by the Palestinian Bar Association demanding an overturn of the decrees.
These included changes to the judiciary process which shortened the period for appeals on judiciary rulings, as well as an increase in court fees, and granted special protections from prosecution for members of security forces, except with written authorisation from the public prosecutor.

 The PA's judiciary branch, represented by the supreme judicial council, held talks with representatives of the Palestinian lawyers for weeks under the umbrella of the Coordination Committee for the Justice Sector (CCJS).
On Monday, the CCJS said in a statement that it had sent a recommendation to the Palestinian president to abolish the decrees in question.

On Wednesday, the Palestinian Bar Association announced it had received a decision, signed by Abbas, saying the laws would be abolished and declared an end to the strike.
"The committee's recommendations, which came out of the agreements reached between lawyers and the PA's representatives, also included a halt to the issuing of laws by decree," Ashraf Abu Hayeh, a human rights lawyer and legal expert based in Ramallah told The New Arab.
"The agreement stipulated that decrees should only be issued in case of extreme need and after discussing them with the affected sectors and civil society," he pointed out.

"It's a small step towards correcting the irregular legislative process and the entire legal situation in Palestine."

Since 2007, laws in the PA-run territories are made by presidential decree following recommendations by the government or government bodies.

The Palestinian Legislative Council, the PA's parliament, stopped meeting after the political split between Fatah and Hamas in that year
In 2018, the Palestinian constitutional court officially dissolved the Legislative Council. Meanwhile, the Palestinian president issued a series of decrees reforming the judiciary and replacing top judges.

Palestinians were scheduled to elect a new Legislative Council in May 2021 but a month prior, Abbas called off the elections saying they would only be held if Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem were allowed to vote by Israel.

Abbas' laws-by-decree raised criticism among Palestinian lawyers who accused Abbas of destroying judicial independence and monopolising power.
The lawyers' protest movement ends as a series of actions by trade unions and civil society.

On Wednesday, a Palestinian administrative court ruled that a protest strike staged by the engineers union since early June was illegal.
Meanwhile, the independent movement of Palestinian public teachers said last week they are planning to go back on strike as of the beginning of the school year in September, less than four months after ending another strike in May, demanding to be recognised as an independent union.