August 11, 2023 | Flash Brief

Abbas Sacks Palestinian Governors 

August 11, 2023 | Flash Brief

Abbas Sacks Palestinian Governors 

Latest Developments 

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas fired 12 out of the 16 regional governors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on August 10 and ordered the creation of a presidential committee to identify replacements. The move comes as the PA continues to face a legitimacy crisis among Palestinians and popular calls for reform. It also comes amidst rumors that PA prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh seeks to step down. Abbas did not notify the governors prior to issuing orders for their termination. 

Some of the regions impacted by the mass dismissal are strongholds of Islamic Jihad and other Iran-backed extremist groups. They include Jenin, Nablus, Tubas, and Tulkarm. Since 2021, these Iran-backed organizations have stepped up attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank. On July 2, the Israel Defense Forces launched a two-day operation in Jenin to degrade the terrorist groups’ infrastructure and capabilities. 

Expert Analysis 

“The problem with the Palestinian Authority is not a problem of regional governors. It is a problem that stems from the lack of legitimacy of the president. Mahmoud Abbas is now 19 years into his four-year term. He is steeped in political and economic corruption. His departure is, by now, perhaps the only thing that can revitalize the sclerotic regime. Remarkably, few governments around the world are willing to recognize this inconvenient truth.”Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research  

“Over the past two years, terrorist groups in the West Bank — with support from the Islamic Republic of Iran — have been undermining the Palestinian Authority. Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that Mahmoud Abbas is now forcing governors to retire in districts that have become strongholds for these organizations.” Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal 

Abbas’ Troubled PA 

Abbas and the PA’s legitimacy among the Palestinian people has severely declined as the government imprisons political opponents, mismanages public finances, and allows corruption to flourish, amid other factors. Abbas was elected president of the PA in 2005 after the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in late 2004. Hamas defeated Abbas’ secular nationalist Fatah Party in a 2006 parliamentary election, leading to a civil war in the Palestinian-controlled territories and Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Since then, the 87-year-old Abbas has canceled elections, most recently in 2021, fearing more defeats for his party. Criticized as a prototypical Arab strongman, Abbas has extended his four-year term to more than 19 years. 

Failed Reconciliation 

On July 30, Abbas chaired a meeting between Fatah and Hamas leaders, including Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, in Egypt, in an effort to reconcile longstanding divisions between the two rival factions. Ultimately, the meeting failed to garner results. In recent weeks, thousands of demonstrators in the Gaza Strip have protested against the Hamas regime, demanding better living conditions but have faced brutal crackdowns by the authorities. Reconciliation between the two factions remains popular on both sides of the Palestinian divide.  

Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation Talks Result in No Agreement,” FDD Flash Brief 

Mapping Terrorism in the West Bank,” by Joe Truzman  

Palestinian Authority Refuses Israel’s Lifeline to Prevent Collapse,” FDD Flash Brief  


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