The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) was the parliament of the Palestinian inhabitants of the Palestinian territories. It was a unicameral body with 132 members, elected from 16 electoral districts of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The PLC was inaugurated for the first time on 7 March 1996 and served as the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority for 11 years. The PLC had limited power and responsibilities, restricted to civil matters and internal security in Area A of the West Bank and in Gaza. Following the 2006 election and the subsequent split of Hamas and Fatah, the council ceased to function as the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority; although Hamas still claims to govern under its directive in the Gaza Strip. With the possible reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah, it would be re-assembled to become the Parliament of the State of Palestine.

The Palestinian Legislative Council passed a law in June 2005 (signed by Mahmoud Abbas on 13 August 2005), increasing the number of members from 88 to 132. It stipulated that half be elected under a system of proportional representation and half by plurality-at-large voting in traditional constituencies.[1][2] The last parliamentary elections took place on 25 January 2006. The next election was intended to take place sometime in 2014 but has been delayed because of disagreements between Hamas and Fatah.[3]

The emblem used for the Palestinian Legislative Council is referred to as the Eagle of Saladin.


The Palestinian legislative council was created by the Oslo Accords and designed in accordance with the provisions of the Oslo II Accord, which dictated its composition, powers and responsibilities in detail.[4] Every single detail regarding the elections was led down in Annex II. Oslo II determines that only residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories may vote or be elected.[5]

The power and responsibilities of the PLC are limited to civil matters and internal security and public order (Article IX and XVII) and subject to review by Israel. The PLC is excluded from the negotiations process with Israel.[6][7]

The PLC was inaugurated for the first time on 7 March 1996.[6][7] The Council was predestined to replace the Arafat/Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority, which was established as a temporary organ, pending the inauguration of the Council.[8] The PA, however, never transferred its power.

PLC versus PNC

While the PLC is elected by the Palestinians residing in the Palestinian territories, it is not the parliament of the State of Palestine. Accordingly, the Palestinian Authority is not the government of the State of Palestine, but the self-government of the inhabitants of the Territories. On the contrary, PLO is recognized by the United Nations as the Government of the State of Palestine.[9] The PLO has its own parliament, the Palestinian National Council, which is formally chosen by the Palestinian people in and outside of the Palestinian Territories. Accordingly, the Executive Committee, formally elected by the PNC, is the official government of the State of Palestine on behalf of the PLO.[10]

Pursuant to the PA's 1995 Elections Law No. 13, the 132 PLC members would automatically become members of the PNC. This was revoked, however, by the 2005 Elections Law No. 9, which does not mention the PNC at all. The 2007 Elections Law No. 2, issued in a decree from President Abbas, re-instated the determination (Article 4).[11] As this PA legislation was neither enacted by the PLO or the PNC, their legal validity are questioned in a PLO document. The document also states that "as opposed to the PNC, the PLC only represents the Palestinian population of the Occupied Territory, and does not reflect the political will of the entire Palestinian People".[12]

As Mahmoud Abbas as of July 2015 is the chairman of the Fatah-dominated PLO as well as of Fatah itself, and the disputed president of the Palestinian Authority (which calls itself the State of Palestine), the functions of the PLO and of the PA are not clearly distinguished. While both PLC and PNC are virtually defunct, the functions of both parliaments are performed by the PLO's Central Council.


From the beginning, the PLC was not able to function properly for a number of reasons:

  • Curtailment of the freedom of movement
    • In the months following the inauguration, members of the PLC (consisting of only Fatah members and moderate non-Fatah members) were subjected to restrictions on their freedom of movement by Israel, as reported by human rights group PCHR. They had to obtain a permit from the Israeli authorities for every single travel, valid for very short periods and sometimes refused.[7][13][14]
    • In 2001, the European Parliament noticed in a resolution that "The Palestinian Legislative Council is more often than not hindered from attending the sessions"[15]
  • Isolation from the outer world. Israel prevents official contacts with the outer world. Even the visit of members of the European Parliament to Gaza were denied.[16][17]
  • Israeli interference with the composition of the PLC. Politicians disliked by Israel were, and still are, prevented from political activities, often by arresting them, holding them in detention for lengthy periods and without charge or trial.[18] After the 2006 elections, Israel captured and detained high numbers of PLC members and ministers.[19][20] By selectively capturing and detaining or even killing Hamas members, Israel changed the composition of the PLC significantly.[21][22]
  • Splitting of the Palestinian Government into two entities after the 2007 Fatah–Hamas battle in Gaza. Since the separation, the Palestinian Legislative Council has not convened.[23]
  • Divided views of the Palestinians towards the validity of the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap for peace. This weakens the position of the PLC.

PLC buildings

PLC building, Ramallah
The destroyed Palestinian Legislative Council building in Gaza City in September 2009.

In the West Bank, the PLC has two main buildings, one in Ramallah in the Ministry of Education, housing the Assembly Chambers, and the main administrative office of the PLC in al-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah.[24] In Gaza, the headquarters is in Rimal, Gaza City.

The PLC buildings have repeatedly been the target of Israeli attacks. In 2002, the headquarters in the West Bank were heavily damaged and equipment destroyed. In January 2009, the Gaza headquarters was bombed during Operation Cast Lead.[25][26][27] The attacks were condemned by the UN Goldstone Mission, who called it a "grave breach of extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly"[28] The building was destroyed in September 2009.

In 2000, the construction of a PLC building was started in Abu Dis, but the project was never finished. In late December 2003, Israel started the construction of a separation wall just few meters away from the planned headquarters, separating Abu Dis from East Jerusalem.[29]

1996 elections

On 20 January 1996, the first Palestinian Parliamentary elections were held. They were, however, boycotted by Hamas. Fatah won 62 of the 88 seats.

Ahmed Qurei, former Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority from 7 October 2003 to 26 January 2006.

2006 elections

Coat of arms of Palestine (alternative).svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Officeholders whose status is disputed are shown in italics

On 25 January 2006, the second elections took place. The European Union supplied election observers to "assess the whole election process, including the legal framework, the political environment and campaign, electoral preparations, voting and counting as well as the post-election period".[30]

See also


  1. ^ Elections Law No 9 of 2005, Article (2). 13 August 2005. Source
  2. ^ "Palestinian unity government sworn in by Mahmoud Abbas". BBC. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "What's delaying Palestinian elections?". Al Monitor. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2016. 
  4. ^ Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip Archived 30 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine.. 28 September 1995. Retrieved from the Knesset website December 2013
  5. ^ Annex II: Protocol Concerning Elections Archived 7 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved from the Knesset website December 2013
  6. ^ a b Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). MEDEA Institute. Retrieved December 2013
  7. ^ a b c The First Months of the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 1996, Chap. V. Constraints on the Council and its members; pp. 26–27, 31–32. National Democratic Institute (NDI), 1 May 1996. On [1].
  8. ^ Articles I and XXXI of the Oslo II Accord
  9. ^ Status of Palestine in the United Nations Archived 12 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine.. UNGA Resolution A/RES/67/19, 29-11-2012
    "Taking into consideration that the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in accordance with a decision by the Palestine National Council, is entrusted with the powers and responsibilities of the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine"
  10. ^ Abbas confirms resignation from PLO Executive Committee. The Middle East Monitor, 24 August 2015
  11. ^ 2007 Elections Law (Presidential decree). palestinianbasiclaw.org
  12. ^ Memo: Distinction between PLO, PA, PNC, PLC. The Palestine Papers, 5 February 2006. On
  13. ^ Report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on the closure imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip. PCHR, 18 April 1996
  14. ^ Israeli Security Forces Prevent Palestinian Legislative Council Members from Travelling to Council Session in Nablus. PCHR, 12 June 1996
  15. ^ Resolution 1245 (2001) Archived 3 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine.. European Parliamentary Assembly, 26 April 2001
  16. ^ Press release. European Parliament, 9 December 2009
  17. ^ Israel denies EU delegation entry to Gaza. Ma'an News Agency, 25 October 2013
  18. ^ PCHR Condemns Storming ICRC Head Office and Detention of PLC Member Toutah and Former Minister Abu 'Arafa. PCHR, 24 January 2012
  19. ^ 1 Aug. 2007: Detention of senior Palestinian officials – wrongful infringement of fundamental rights. B'Tselem, 24 May 2011
  20. ^ Palestinian Legislative Council Members. Addameer, accessed November 2015
  21. ^ Israel seizes Hamas legislators. BBC, 29 June 2006
  22. ^ 25% of Palestinian MPs detained by Israel. Conal Urquhart, Guardian, 21 August 2006
  23. ^ Official: Reconvening parliament will delay unity talks. Ma'an News Agency, 2 February 2013
  24. ^ As of April 2002. "Report on the Destruction to Palestinian Governmental Institutions in Ramallah Caused by IDF Forces Between March 29 and April 21, 2002" (PDF). Archived from the original on 23 March 2003. Retrieved 2014-01-05.  , Chap. II, p. 14. Palestinian National Authority, 22 April 2002
  25. ^ Israel resumes bombardment of Gaza. Al Jazeera, 1 January 2009
  26. ^ Eleven children among 21 killed on sixth day of Israeli air assault. Ma'an, 1 January 2009
  27. ^ "Abu Laila denounces Israeli shelling of Legislative Council building in Gaza". Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 2017-05-20.  . DFLP, 3 January 2009.
  28. ^ Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, p.11., paragr. 32. Attacks by Israeli forces on government buildings and persons of the Gaza authorities,including police. United Nations, 25 September 2009.
  29. ^ Abu Dis: A Palestinian Town Tarred by the Israeli Wall Archived 19 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. ARIJ & LRC, 4 February 2004
  30. ^ EU Election Observation Mission for Palestinian Legislative Council Elections. European Commission, press release IP/05/589, 23 May 2005

External links