Hundreds took to the streets to protest the inactive Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), which has been dormant since 2007. This means that Mahmoud Abbas, who has held the title of president since 2005, has essentially been ruling the state as an autocrat.
Abbas has been “ruling by decree” since 2007, the last time the PLC was active. The protest was led by the Palestinian Bar Association, which has recently come under new leadership that is seeking to fight what they see as a repressive government.
The group of lawyers are also seeking to end numerous recent laws that they see as restrictive of average Palestinians’ freedoms.
While the draft Palestinian constitution does allow for the president to “rule by decree” when the PLC is inactive, the group feels that Abbas is clearly taking advantage of the situation.
Abbas has also repeatedly refused to hold presidential elections and has passed somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 presidential decrees in his time as president.
This protest is just one in a growing movement that has seen an uptick in activity in recent years. Along with the dictatorial rule of Abbas, security forces in the West Bank have also viciously attacked those they view as threats.
One high-profile example of this was the murder of Nizar Banat. Banat, an activist, who was vocal in his opposition to Abbas, who was beaten to death. Many, including the top Palestinian prosecutor, have claimed that his murder was committed by members of Palestinian security forces.
Protests are likely to continue in the West Bank for some time. Whether they will attain their goals of a more democratic and representative state is yet to be seen.