Monday, February 13, 2006

The John Marshall of Palestine

In a very interesting development, the Palestinian parliament has created a constitutional court with the power of judicial review. The court will have the power to essentially veto legislation that is inconsistent with the Basic Law governing the Palestinian territories.

This court is of great concern to Hamas as it prepares to take control of the parliament. Specifically, the court will be able to overturn any religious laws that Hamas passes to move the territories closer to the rule of shari'a. The Basic Laws do state, in Article 4, that Islam is the official religion of the territories and that the source of all legislation shall be Islamic shari'a. However, the Palestinians have been largely resistant of any moves towards increased Islamic law in their domestic law.

Hamas will, upon taking control, try to overturn the creation of the court. If Hamas is not successful, the court could be a meaningful and important brake on the ambitions of Hamas and play a moderating role in Palestinian politics, as well as perhaps setting a precedent for other Arab and/or Islamic countries.

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