Office of the President
The president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is directly elected by Palestinians in the OPT for a four-year renewable term. The president is also chief of the national security services.
In March 2020, President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree expanding the administrative and financial powers of his Office. Some legal experts criticised the law as “creating a parallel government”.
The PA has held presidential elections twice. The first were in 1996 and won by Yasser Arafat (against the DFLP‘s Samiha Khalil). A presidential election was held once again in 2005 following Arafat’s death, and was won by Mahmoud Abbas (against Mustafa Barghouti). After Yasser Arafat’s death in November 2004, then PLC-speaker Rawhi Fattouh acted as interim president of the PA for two months until the elections of Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas’s mandate was extended in 2009 by the PLO‘s Executive Committee (EC). In January 2021, Abbas announced new presidential elections, to be held on 31 July. On 29 April, Abbas indefinitely postponed the electoral process citing Israel’s refusal to permit the inclusion of East Jerusalem.
According to the 2005 Basic Law, the president appoints a prime minister which must be approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
According to Article 37 of the 2003 amended Basic Law, if the PA presidency becomes vacant due to death, resignation, or loss of legal capacity, the PLC speaker will assume presidential powers and duties for a maximum of 60 days, during which national elections must be held to determine a new president.