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newsU.S.-Israel Relations

US Palestinian Affairs Office mum on Abbas sacking 12 governors

The office advised JNS to reach out to Ramallah.

P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, May 5, 2020. Credit: Flash90.
P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, May 5, 2020. Credit: Flash90.

The U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs, whose offices are located at the American Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem but which is an entirely separate institution, had “no comment” on Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas’s firing this month of 12 regional governors.

“We don’t have a comment on this. Please reach out to the Palestinian Authority officials/bodies directly,” the office stated in response to a query by JNS.

On Aug. 10, Abbas issued a decree removing 12 of his 16 regional governors from their posts, the P.A.’s Wafa news agency reported.

In Judea and Samaria, Abbas ordered the forced retirement of the heads of the P.A.’s governorates of Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilya, Tulkarm, Bethlehem, Hebron, Tubas and Jericho (the latter includes a large section of the Jordan Valley).

In the Gaza Strip, which has been ruled by the Hamas terrorist organization since 2007, Abbas fired the P.A. representatives for North Gaza, Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah.

Only the governors of Jerusalem, Salfit and Ramallah/al-Bireh remain in their posts. The governor of Deir el-Balah in Gaza, Abdullah Abu Samhadana, died in 2020, and Abbas has yet to appoint a successor.

Wafa cited no reason for the overhaul. The report claimed Abbas had ordered the creation of a committee, consisting of “leading figures,” that would present him with candidates to fill the vacant positions.

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS the lack of comment on Abbas’s firings is indicative of a “standard operating procedure” put in place by former U.S. President Barack Obama to criticize Israel while supporting Ramallah unconditionally.

The White House, State Department and U.S. National Security Council did not respond to multiple requests from JNS for comment.

Recent polling shows that the 87-year-old Abbas is deeply unpopular among the Palestinian public, who increasingly support terrorist groups.

Abbas is in the 19th year of his four-year term and has not heeded repeated calls to hold elections.

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