Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday ordered the removal of 12 out of the 16 regional governors in the West Bank and Gaza.
Among those ordered to “retire” are the governors of northern Gaza, Gaza City, Khan Younis, and Rafah in the Gaza Strip, according to the official Wafa news agency. These roles are symbolic and lack authority, since the Fatah-controlled PA was violently booted from the coastal enclave in 2007 by the Hamas terror group, which has ruled there ever since.
In the West Bank, he ordered the removal of the governors of Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilya, Tulkarem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Tubas and Jericho.
No reason was given for the political upheaval, but the report said Abbas ordered the creation of a presidential committee to find suitable candidates to take over the positions.
Observers have warned that the PA is close to financial collapse, and with the deeply unpopular government increasingly losing control of security in certain areas.
In July, rival Palestinian political leaders meeting in Egypt decided to form a committee on intra-Palestinian reconciliation, a move that one analyst doubted would end their 17-year rift.
Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met for rare face-to-face talks in the coastal city of El Alamein along with representatives of most Palestinian political factions.
The latest attempt at reconciliation aims to bridge the gap between the parallel governments of Hamas in Gaza and of the PA in the West Bank.
Abbas and Haniyeh were joined by the heads of other factions, except for Islamic Jihad and two other minor groups.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is said to be refusing to sign off on economic measures to prop up the PA, despite Israeli commitments to the United States.
Channel 12 reported Monday that the Religious Zionism chairman is adamant in his opposition to an Israeli agreement to delay the payment of PA tax debts, which total approximately $500 million. The report added that the finance minister will likely refuse to approve any other move intended to assist the PA.