Abbas Moves to Increase Power Within PA

YERUSHALAYIM -

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has taken steps to galvanize power in recent days, establishing a supreme court packed with his supporters and cutting off funding from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), The Jerusalem Post reported.

The nine-member judicial panel will have authority to overrule all lower courts, and with the judges’ loyalty to Abbas, analysts say that it could put Hamas at a disadvantage.

The court was created without fanfare by presidential decree on April 3 and the swearing-in of its ninth member on Monday concluded the process.

Fatah maintained it is Abbas’s right to create the court, which it says is independent of the 81-year-old president. The issue of who will succeed him has been festering for some time, and the new court will likely only exacerbate tensions with rival Hamas.

“It’s a blatant power grab at a time when he knows he can get away with it,” said Grant Rumley, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.

“From Abbas’s standpoint, this is his way of both thwarting his rivals in Hamas and securing his Fatah party’s hold on the Palestinian Authority once he is gone,” Rumley told Reuters.

In a separate move, Abbas decided to sever funding to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, a leader of the PFLP said on Monday.

The Marxist PGLP is the second largest group in the PLO after Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction. Like other PLO factions, the PFLP has been receiving monthly disbursements from the PLO’s Palestinian National Fund.

The decision came in response to the PFLP’s recent criticism of Abbas’s policies, especially the ongoing security coordination with Israel, sources in Ramallah said.