A court has upheld Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to strip a political rival of his parliamentary immunity.

The Constitutional Court ruling, announced late Sunday, blocks the return of Mohammed Dahlan to the West Bank for a possible succession battle.

Dahlan was convicted in absentia of defamation after Abbas lifted his immunity in 2012. A Palestinian court threw out separate corruption charges after ruling Abbas’ immunity decree was not legal.

In the past, only parliament could lift a member’s immunity. Parliament has been defunct since the territorial split of 2007 that left Abbas with West Bank enclaves and the rival Hamas in control of Gaza.

Analyst Jihad Harb said Monday that the court enabled Abbas to go after “anyone else who dares to challenge the power of the president.”