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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 11:09 GMT
Hamas-Fatah row goes before court
PLC on Monday
The new Hamas-dominated parliament was sworn in last month
A challenge by the new Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament to legislation giving more power to the president will go before the supreme court on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Islamist group attempted to revoke the decision by the previous parliament, in which President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party had a majority.

A senior Fatah MP told the BBC the new parliament had no right to debate laws passed by the previous one.

The row dims hopes of forming a national unity government.

The outgoing parliament voted to give new presidential powers to Mr Abbas last month, ahead of the inauguration of the new Palestinian Legislative Council, in which Hamas has 74 seats to Fatah's 45.

Democracy is not about violating laws
Saeb Erekat

The legislation included setting up a constitutional court, made up of judges appointed by the president.

Hamas said the move had been illegitimate and, on Monday, it attempted to revoke the powers, provoking angry scenes.

A motion by a Hamas-backed independent to refer the legislation to the supreme court was passed during the session.

But the speaker, Aziz al-Duwaik, continued the debate calling for the legislation to be repealed and Fatah MPs walked out of the PLC in protest.

'No right'

Saeb Erekat, one of the MPs who walked out of the session, condemned Hamas' attempt to annul the legislation.

"Democracy is not about violating laws," he told the BBC on Monday.

"Democracy is not about using raised hands to violate flagrantly the basic law and the rules of law - that was our message to parliament."

Though he conceded Hamas had been elected democratically in January's election, Mr Erekat said the Islamist group had no right to overturn the previous parliament's legislation.

"We do recognise [that we are now in opposition] and respect this, but at the same time to come and cancel laws illegally and promote laws because you have 64 votes that can raise their hands."

The leader of Fatah's parliamentary faction, Azzam al-Ahmed, also criticised Hamas' move.

"They used their majority to infringe the law on behalf of their interests, and we are resorting now to the judiciary to help us protect the law," he said.

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