Curfew Stops PLC No-confidence Vote

A session of the Palestinian Legislative Council that was to include a vote on a no-confidence motion in the new Palestinian cabinet was postponed again today due to the ongoing curfew and siege of Ramallah.

The council was also supposed to discuss new legislation for the reform process that began in June. The international task force on the reforms, which met in Paris last week, noted that the PLC tried to meet today, and expressed hope that it could convene in the future.

The PLC meeting was planned to take place simultaneously in Gaza and Ramallah, but Ramallah has been under curfew for the last three days. Yesterday the presidium of the PLC was told that the curfew would be lifted today between 8 A.M. and noon, but then they were told the curfew would not be lifted. Later, word came via the Palestinian coordination office that the curfew would be lifted for a few hours in the morning.

The presidium decided that under such circumstances of uncertainty it would be best not to try to hold the meeting, and a new date was set - September 5. Yasser Arafat is expected to attend that session.

Even if the curfew was lifted today in Ramallah, those who live outside the city would be hard pressed to arrive because of the checkpoints across the West Bank, and the need for travel passes to move around within the West Bank, presidium sources said in explanation of their decision.

European and UN representatives in the country asked the Israeli authorities to provide the PLC members appropriate travel passes for a few months, so that they can meet regularly and deal with new legislation - including the 2003 budget.

One of the main critiques of the Arafat regime is his indifference to the separation of powers in government and his lack of respect for the independence of the PLC. Palestinians and European diplomats say that, ironically, the Israeli limits on travel are helping Arafat's effort to push the PLC to the sidelines.