Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has fired all of his advisers, his office said Monday. 

Official statements report that Abbas has also demanded they return huge pay raises.

The Palestinian government has long faced charges of corruption and mismanagement and Abbas has cycled through dozens of advisers since he first took office in 2005, with many continuing to receive salaries and benefits after leaving office.

Abbas is currently in the fourteenth year of what was initially a four-year term, and has refused to hold elections since he took control of the P.A. presidency.

Documents leaked earlier this year showed that the former Cabinet gave its members lavish payouts. The documents showed that ministers’ pay had climbed from $3,000 a month to $5,000 — a 67% raise — and that the prime minister’s salary was raised to $6,000 a month. Abbas had secretly approved the raises, overriding a 2004 law fixing ministerial salaries. The raises were applied retroactively to 2014, when the Cabinet took office, resulting in bonuses worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Abbas’s office did not provide further details about the sackings, but the move comes amid a spending crunch following Israel’s decision in February to withhold around $10 million a month in tax transfers.

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

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

Prisoners who have carried out attacks on Israelis are among those receiving the payments, which encourages further violence.

Jihad Harb, a Palestinian Arab political analyst, said it appeared Abbas had decided to sack his advisers after receiving a report in June on payments to ministers and officials.

“It is clear that president Abbas received the report from the committee that examined the salaries and benefits of employees,” Harb told AFP.

He “wants to reduce his office’s spending by taking austerity measures to confront the current budget crisis.”

The PA has cut salaries for most its tens of thousands of employees by half to keep the government afloat. However, the PA has vowed that payments to terrorists will not be cut at all. Such payments have in fact risen in 2019 despite the budget crisis

Source: Arutz Sheva / WorldIsraelNews

 

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