President Mahmoud Abbas issued two Presidential Decrees, effectively holding the power of a law, according to his constitutional powers.
The first Presidential Decree amended the Judicial Authority Law by lowering the age of retirement for judges to sixty years old, The second Presidential Decree dissolves the current High Judicial Council and establishes a new interim council for a period of one year whereby such interim council shall take over the legal powers and authorities of the dissolved council including, but not ed to, restructuring the court system on all levels of litigation.
Such interim council shall also have the authority to, among other things, administer issues relating to the organization of the judiciary, draft and propose legislation to remedy the shortfalls in the legal system, facilitate access to justice, and, more generally, to remedy the shortfalls in the justice system and regain the public’s confidence in the legal system. The interim council is also mandated to duly reformulate the High Judicial Council in accordance with the law.
It should be noted that the Presidential Decrees have been issued in a special publication of the Official Gazette by the Advisory and Legislation Bureau.
The decision of the President to issue the Presidential Decrees comes at a juncture where the public’s confidence in the performance of the judiciary is deteriorating as outlined in various reports, surveys and polls issued by official and civil society organizations. The decision of the President to issue the Presidential Decrees also comes at a point where the judicial system is witnessing an unprecedented backlog of cases, the High Judicial Council is failing to put a stop to the deterioration in the judiciary, and to heed to the calls advanced by official semi-official, and supervisory bodies including members of the judicial body.
The interim council is constituted of seven members headed by Issa Abu Sharar, who served as the head of the High Court and formerly the head of the High Judicial Council, Azzmi Tanjeer, formerly a member of the High Court, Salwa Sayyeg, a member of the High Court and formerly a member of the High Judicial Council, Hussein Ebidat, head of the Appellate Court and formerly a member of the High Judicial Council, Abed Kareem Hanoun, member of the Appellate Court and delegated to become a member of the High Court, in addition to the Attorney General and Deputy Minister of Justice.
The President also instructed all competent authorities to provide the assistance needed or required to support and aid the newly formed interim council in achieving its mandate as outlined in the Presidential Decrees.