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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 09:58 GMT
Hamas tries to revoke Fatah laws
Hamas' Palestinian parliamentary speaker Aziz al-Duwaik chairs the parliament, Ramallah, 06 March 2006
Speaker Aziz al-Duwaik called Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmed to order
The new Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament has attempted to revoke recent legislation giving more powers to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The increased powers were agreed by the previous parliament with a majority from Mr Abbas' Fatah party.

Measures Hamas has objected to include the allocation of key administrative posts to members of Fatah, whose MPs walked out before the vote.

The uproar dims hopes of forming a national unity government.

The issue is to be put before the Palestinian supreme court.

Monday saw more violence, with an Israeli air strike in Gaza City killing four Palestinians, at least two of them reportedly Islamic Jihad militants, while two teenage brothers were killed by a bomb elsewhere in the Gaza Strip.

In contrast to Hamas, Islamic Jihad has continued to mount suicide bombings inside Israel and snubbed the 25 January election which the larger group won.

Heated debates

The first session of the new Palestinian parliament descended into shouting matches between Hamas MPs and their Fatah rivals.

We have tried dialogue and contacts with Hamas, but they are insisting on domination
Fatah MP Azzam al-Ahmed

"This is a protest about this meeting," Fatah MP Nabil Shaath said after the walkout.

Fatah, he said, would return after agreement was reached with Hamas on a new system which made it worthwhile for his party to be part of parliament and "not be overruled on order by the numerical majority".

The new parliament, with 74 Hamas MPs to Fatah's 45, was sworn in last month.

The last session with a Fatah majority on 13 February - more than two weeks after the election - voted in a number of measures seen to be curbing the parliament's authority.

These included setting up a constitutional court, whose members would be picked by Palestinian Authority president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.

'Democracy in action'

Fatah's representatives insisted Hamas had no right to overturn their decisions, leading to heated exchanges in which Hamas speaker Aziz al-Duwaik repeatedly called Mr Ahmed to order.

Palestinian Parliament speaker Abdul Aziz Duaik seen on video link from Ramallah at Gaza City parliament meeting 6 March 2006
The Ramallah sessions were video-linked to delegates in Gaza City

"They [Hamas] are thirsty for power, and they can do what they want since they have a majority, but must do it according to the law," Mr Ahmed told reporters during a break for prayers.

Hamas legislator Mahmoud Zahhar complained that "every time we presented an important point, Azzam al-Ahmed would stand up and try to disrupt our work".

However, Hamas' Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniya said the exchanges showed the vitality of Palestinian democracy.

"Even though the first session seemed a little bit tense, it indicates the vitality of this legislature and... the democratic rule through pluralism," he told The Associated Press news agency.

Many of the parliament's MPs were taking part in the session via a video link to chambers in Gaza City because of Israeli-imposed travel restrictions.

Twelve large photographs were displayed showing Hamas and other MPS currently being held in Israeli detention - while a roll call showed 15 were either in prison or on the run from the Israeli security forces, AFP news agency reports.

Does the uproar in the Palestinian parliament bode ill for Hamas rule or is it just evidence of democracy at work, as the group suggests itself?

Send us your views using the form below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion received:

Hamas has already won the majority but it doesn't mean that they are going to impose a self rule through their majority factor. What they should do is to cooperate with Fatah and other political faction so that a long lived political stability could be achieved in Palestine which could be proved fruitful for the future of this territory as well as the whole of Middle East.
Abhishek Bharadwaj, Noida, India

It was easy to predict this standoff between Fatah and Hamas. It is no surprise and sadly Hamas are leading the Palestinians down a hopeless path. Hamas needs to get it through its head that the only way for peace is dialogue with Israel.
Jon D, Wolverhampton, UK

Fatah has had pretty much a free hand in running the Palestinian territories to date (Israel excepted) and will probably take some time to adjust to being a minority party in the parliament. Such is the process of democracy. Better vigorous exchanges than the sort of docile puppets hoped for by the Israelis and USA. Good luck to Hamas in their new role.
Avyorth, England

I think it is democracy but every party wants to dominate the parliament Hamas now has the majority and it wants to dominate the PLC session to pass its own laws and legislation as Fatah did in the past when it was majority. They are the same. As for this uproar, it is a sign of future conflicting ideas that will distract us from our real rights.
Belal Badwan, Palestinian territories-Gaza Strip

Fatah was perfectly happy to rule when they held the majority. They shared power with no one. As the new majority Hamas has every right to make new laws and change old ones. That is the point of a democracy.
TW Moran, New York, USA

Debate within any parliament is a sign of democracy at work. It is fantastic that the Hamas MPs are doing their job - how could anyone see otherwise!? The fact that Hamas is attempting to restructure a government that the people have deemed less worthy of their vote should be commended. At this stage of progression in Palestinian, or any government for that matter, we should support rather than dismiss those acting in the interests of the people.
Michael Chabior, Toronto, Canada

This is a disaster for democracy and hopes of peace within the Middle East. Mahmoud Abbas seems a reasonable man, a man of peace and somebody the Israelis genuinely feel they can do business with. Unfortunately Hamas have no interest in peace and living side by side with the state of Israel. Their only desire is to wipe Israel off the map through violence. This isn't real democracy. Any chance of peace in the near future appears over. It's sad but in voting Hamas to power, the Palestinian people have merely ended their opportunity to live in their own flourishing state in peace and harmony.
Oliver Coleman, London, UK

I think that only Fatah should be allowed to rule the Palestinian National Authority because with Fatah in power normal Palestinians can get aid from other nations with Hamas they cant anymore
Mohammed, New Jersey/Ramallah, Palestine

A semblance of democracy is what operates in Palestine. Under Yasser Arafat, the scenario that obtains now operated then. The difference between then and now is that Yasser Arafat and his Fatah Movement were the friends of the West and Hamas is not. The civilised Western European nations should not lose sight of the fact that arguments and political difference obtains in the parliament of other democracies. We should refrain from the outright condemnation of others because they share a different view on an issue.
Osita Anahquenzeh, Ibadan, Nigeria

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