Justice System

The Palestinian justice system includes the Attorney General’s Office, the Bar Association, and a court system supervised and regulated by the High Judicial Council (HJC) which nominates judges for approval by the president of the PA.

The PA court system is composed of sharia courts, military courts, the Court of First Instance, Court of Conciliation, the Courts of Appeal, the High Court of Justice, and the newly created Constitutional Court (which interprets the Basic Law and legislative texts) and Electoral Court.

The Palestinian judiciary faces a number of challenges, including the intra-Palestinian split that has led to the development of a parallel justice system in Gaza under Hamas, as well as continued obstacles resulting from Israel’s occupation and limited Palestinian sovereignty. President Mahmoud Abbas has also been accused of stacking the Constitutional Court with loyalists.

In September 2018, the Palestinian Judges Association announced that 14 (out of 27) justices of the Supreme [High] Court had submitted their resignations in protest against legal amendments proposed by the Judiciary Development Committee “undermining the independence of the judiciary”. According to the Middle East Monitor: “The recommendations proposed to amend the law by making the appointment and removal of the President of Palestine’s Supreme [High] Judicial Council in the hands of the President of the Palestinian National Authority, in addition to reducing the retirement age of judges from 70 to 65 years, and recommending the formation of a committee called the Judicial Purge Commission.” In July 2019, Abbas dissolved the High Judicial Council (HJC), claiming it had failed to halt the deterioration of the judiciary, and replacing it with a Transitional High Judicial Council for one year. In addition, Abbas reduced the retirement age of judges to 60 years.