Abbas, who leads the moderate Fatah faction, disbanded a Hamas-led government and formed an emergency administration after the Islamist group seized the Gaza Strip by force on June 14. Since then, he has ruled by emergency decree.
The annual opening of parliament, meant to pick a new speaker, was called off because Hamas lawmakers said it was illegal. Israel's arrests of dozens of Hamas deputies mean the group no longer has the majority it won in 2006 elections.
With his 30-day state of emergency declaration set to expire at the end of this week, Abbas could use Wednesday's aborted session as grounds for extending the life of his emergency government without parliamentary approval.
''We have entered a new real constitutional crisis. Now the president can issue decisions without parliament. We do not want this to happen. This undermines the essence of democracy,'' independent legislator Hanan Ashrawi said.
Abbas has been ruling by emergency decree, suspending articles of the Basic Law -- which functions as the Palestinian constitution -- to sidestep legal requirements that he obtain the approval of parliament.
Salah al-Bardaweel, a Hamas spokesman, said the session on Wednesday had been meant as a ''plot'' by Abbas ''to isolate Hamas from the political theatre''.
BOYCOTT Hamas won a majority of the seats in parliament in the January 2006 election, but Israel has arrested about half of the group's 74 legislators and it can no longer assemble a majority.
The parliament has seldom managed to gather 67 members to form a quorum because either Hamas or Fatah refused to show up, and it has not passed a single law in over a year.
As well as boycotting Wednesday's session because they considered it to be illegal, Hamas feared losing the speaker's post if enough members had been present to form a quorum.
In the Gaza Strip, the parliament's acting speaker, Ahmad Bahar of Hamas, prevented four Fatah lawmakers from attending the session there. Fatah lawmakers accused Hamas of blocking the video link between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Gaza.
The main authors of the Basic Law said this week Abbas was overstepping his authority and that he was required to obtain parliamentary approval to keep in place the emergency government he set up under western-backed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Abbas's Fatah faction says no such approval is needed so long as parliament is paralysed. The fact that parliament now fails to meet could well serve Fatah in proving its point that there is no functioning parliament to convene.
The Basic Law says Abbas can issue decrees that have the power of law if the parliament is not in session. It does not explicitly say that Abbas can keep his emergency government in place without parliamentary approval.
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