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The European Union has welcomed the confirmation by Palestinian president Yasser Arafat of a law guaranteeing the independence of his nascent state's judiciary
Brussels called for a reconstituted Palestinian authority to be more democratic and transparent than the government. Brussels has been imposing conditions on the Arafat administration for the resumption of full-scale EU aid, including the establishment of real judicial independence. This has been found wanting, even though the Palestinian Basic Law protects the autonomy of the judiciary. A 1999 Law Society report concluded: "The executive has defied court sentences, interfered with the judiciary and attacked the professional independence and dignity of judges and lawyers." Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for External Relations, said: "This signature constitutes an important step towards reforming the judiciary in the Palestinian territories, and the separation of powers." He also urged President Arafat "to ensure this new piece of legislation and indeed other laws are effectively implemented in their entirety as soon as possible." Brussels will continue to provide some assistance to the Palestinian authority and to the Palestinian judicial system to make the new law work.