Institute of Law Conference - Foundation Office Palestinian Territories
The conference was opened with keynote speeches by the director of the IoL, Jamil Salem, and Michael Mertes, director of the KAS. They commended the long and successful collaboration of the KAS Ramallah and the IoL and highlighted the significance of the conference especially with regard to the current political events. In his subsequent speech, Hasan al-Ouri - Legal Adviser to the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas - stressed the relevance of a scholarly discourse concerning the legislative status in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to overcome the internal political and legislative division. He also emphasised the potential of the legislation to induce broader socio-economic changes. However, the complexity of the local legal system, which consists of Palestinian laws alongside Ottoman, British Mandate, Jordanian and recent Israeli civil and military laws, was identified to pose an obstacle to the legislative process.
Against the background of the Palestinian political division, the first panel discussed previous agreements signed between Fatah and Hamas as well as fundamental obstacles that prevented their effective implementation. In addition, the national electoral legislation was discussed from a political perspective. The General Director of the Palestinian Centre for Policy Research and Strategic Studies, Hani al-Masri, stressed in this regard the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the lack of representation of the Palestinian people by the PLO on the legislative process. Ammar Jamous, Legal Assistant at the IoL, finally amplified in his presentation “The State of Emergency" the amended Basic Law of 2003 and the disregard of the legal basis of the government by the Palestinian Authority.
In the second session, the audience was given an overview over the current Palestinian legislative process in the context of the political and legislative division of the Palestinian Territories. Legislative tools and mechanisms used by the governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the negative influence of the division since 2007 were elaborated. Ahmad al-Khalidi suggested in this regard and with reference to the Northern Ireland conflict between Protestants and Catholics the establishment of an independent committee to help balance the legislative division. In subsequent discussions, the importance of the harmonisation of local ordinances was emphasised.
Speakers such as the advisor and legal researcher at the human rights organisation "Al-Haq", Issam Abdeen, explored the effectiveness of the High Court in performing tasks of the Constitutional Court as well as the general status of control over the constitutionality of laws. The conference also highlighted the growing debate about the necessity of the establishment of a Constitutional Court and its potential functions. Especially the lack of a separation of powers due to the inhibited Parliament was criticised and highlighted as a barrier to the legislative process.
Finally, during the fourth and final panel, some regulations that were enacted per decree by the President of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or by the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip were presented in detail.
The high attendance, active participation and discussion panels as well as the strong representation of scholarly and political entities, such as the various ministries, legal institutions and the presidential consultants ultimately underlined the relevance of the work-up of the current state of the legislative framework conditions.