Using as its starting point the May 1997 report by a Palestinian parliamentary committee on the misuse of public funds, this essay looks into the performance of the Palestinian Authority and charges of corruption, patronage, and human rights violations. It argues that most of the excesses result from the legal vacuum created by the occupation and from the absence of institutional counterweights to the PA in all domains. While reactions to the report demonstrated civil society's profound aspiration for the rule of law, the article concludes that the absence of a state necessarily means the absence of a state of law and an ongoing state of emergency.

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