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Not to be confused with the Regional Congress of the Palestinian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party.

The Palestine Arab Congress (Arabic: المؤتمر العربي الفلسطيني al-mu’tamr al-‘arabī al-falasṭīnī) is the national unicameral legislative assembly of the Republic of Palestine. As the legislative branch of government, it is responsible for deliberating upon and passing legislation, and is independent of the other branches of government. The Prime Minister of Palestine is appointed by the President to lead the Council of Ministers, the executive branch of government, and is accountable to the Congress which is empowered to force the Prime Minister's resignation and dissolve the Council of Ministers via a no-confidence vote.

The Palestine Arab Congress meets in the Copenhagen Mall Building, which is located in the Mount Scopus borough of East Jerusalem, directly across Nablus Road from Republican Hall which hosts the Council of Ministers.

History[]

After the British defeat of Ottoman forces in 1918, the British established military rule and (later) civil administration of Palestine. The Palestine Arab Congress, organised by a nationwide network of local Muslim-Christian Associations, was formed when the country's Arab population began coordinated opposition to British policies, and began as a series of congresses held by the local Palestinian Arab population. Between 1919 and 1928, seven congresses were held in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa and Nablus. Despite broad public support, their executive committees were never officially recognised by the British, who claimed they were unrepresentative. Nevertheless, the Arab Higher Committee, the main committee, acted as the executive of the Palestinian Arab community during the Mandate period, and would play an important role in the termination of British administration after the Second World War and the subsequent Palestinian declaration of independence.

IV Congress, Jerusalem, 1921

After the withdrawal of the British in 1947, the Palestine Arab Congress approved the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Palestine, and commissioned the drafting of a constitution. After the start of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Congress approved the new constitution, and held fresh legislative elections the following year in territory under Palestinian control, resulting in the National Defence Party taking 79 of 100 seats and the remaining 21 for the Palestine Arab Party. Following the war, Palestine's first presidential election was held, in which Ragheb al-Nashashibi of the National Defence Party ran unopposed, taking office in 1950. After the Suez Crisis of 1956, an additional 56 seats were added, representing territory formerly not under the control of the Palestinian government. The 1979 constitution restructured the seating arrangement of Congress to 233 seats more accurately distributed according to population.

Structure[]

Legislative election of September 2017:
NATIONAL PROGRESSIVE FRONT:
Ba'ath Party (131 seats, government)
Communist Party (33 seats)
Democratic Front (9 seats)
Revolutionary Alliance (7 seats)
People's Party (7 seats)
DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE:
Nationalist Party (21 seats)
National Initiative (6 seats)
Third Way (5 seats)
Palestine Arab Party (3 seats)
Democratic List (3 seats)
INDEPENDENTS (8 seats)

The Palestine Arab Congress consists of 233 seats, each representing a census-defined electoral district of roughly 40,000 people, and directly elected by its constituents. The Palestine Arab Congress debates upon and passes legislation, and retains the power to dissolve the Council of Ministers and force the resignation of the Prime Minister via a vote of no confidence. Congress elections take place every three years, for a total of two elections during the president's six-year term. Presidential elections are always held before the coinciding legislative election.

The Palestine Arab Congress elects from amongst its members a Speaker, who is responsible for moderating house debates and opening and closing congress sessions. While the Speaker may be a member of a particular political party, he or she is expected to be neutral and nonpartisan and may only vote to break a tie. The Speaker of the Palestine Arab Congress is considered the highest official of the legislative branch of government. Unlike in other countries, the Speaker is not included in the presidential or prime ministerial line of succession.

Distribution[]

Political party Leader Coalition 2017 2014 2011
Palestinian Regional Branch of the
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Roman Kindi NPF 131 seats 127 seats 128 seats
Communist Party of Palestine Ahmed Shujai NPF 33 34 30
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine Nayef Hawatmeh NPF 9 11 12
Palestinian People's Revolutionary Alliance Mustafa Douaihy NPF 7 9 11
Palestinian People's Party Bassam as-Salhi NPF 7 6 6
Nationalist Party (Fatah) Mahmoud Abbas Democratic Alliance 21 24 25
Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouti Democratic Alliance 6 5 5
Third Way Hanan Ashrawi Democratic Alliance 5 5 5
Palestine Arab Party Khaled Husseini Democratic Alliance 3 3 3
Democratic List Saleh Rafat Democratic Alliance 3 3 4
independents n/a n/a 8 5 5
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