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Abbas fires all his advisers amid PA cash crunch

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has fired all of his advisers, his office says today, amid a financial crisis in the West Bank that has prompted deep salary cuts.

Abbas’s office doesn’t provide further details on the number of advisers or the costs involved, pointing only to a brief statement issued through official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The move comes amid a spending crunch following Israel’s decision in February to withhold around $10 million a month in tax transfers.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to Palestinian leaders at the Muqata, the PA headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2019. (Wafa news agency)

Israel collects some $190 million a month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through its ports. It then transfers the money to the Palestinian government.

The amount it deducted — $138 million for the year — corresponds to what Israel says the Palestinian Authority paid terrorists in Israeli prisons, or their families, in 2018.

Abbas has accused Israel of blackmail and refused to take any of the tax transfers, which account for some 65 percent of PA revenues.

The PA has cut salaries for most its tens of thousands of employees by half to keep the government afloat.

— AFP

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