Changes in Palestinian Monetary Authority senior personnel, apparently in view of the Palestinian Authority’s plans to circumvent the problem of making payments to terrorists and the families of shaheeds
- On January 1, 2021 an order given by the IDF Commander of the Central Command went into effect banning the banks in Judea and Samaria from providing banking services to Palestinian prisoners, released prisoners and the families of shaheeds receiving payments from the Palestinian Authority (PA). Following the order, the Bank of Palestine, the largest Palestinian bank, began closing accounts of prisoners and shaheed families. (Filastin al-A’an, January 5, 2021).
- Before the order went into effect, Qudri Abu Bakr, chairman of the authority of prisoners and released prisoners’ affairs, announced that payments for December 2020, and January and February 2021 had been made in advance (al-Andalou News, December 29, 2020). That is expected to give the PA government breathing space until the new American administration begins functioning, and to formulate an alternative method for making the payments.
- Given those developments, there were changes in the Palestinian Monetary Authority’s (PMA) senior personnel. The PMA is PA’s official source of economic authority, established as part of the Paris Accord (See Appendix). The changes were the following:
- Azzam al-Shawwa, PMA governor and prominent Palestinian banker, submitted his resignation to Mahmoud Abbas without advance notice, after having served for as PMA governor for five years (his term was supposed to end in 2023). Mahmoud Abbas immediately accepted his resignation (PMA website, January 3, 2021).
- Dr. Feras Milhem was appointed to replace him. He is a well-known jurist who served as a member of the PMA’s board of directors for more than five years. He was immediately sworn in (Wafa, January 4, 2021; al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, January 3, 2021).
- Muhammad Manasra was sworn in as deputy PMA governor on December 24, 2020 (PMA website, December 24, 2020).
- The rapid changes in PMA senior personnel, mainly the sudden resignation of Azzam al-Shawwa, an experienced, professional banker, was a great surprise to Palestinian economic experts. The Palestinian and Arab media hypothesized several reasons for it. The official cause given was “personal reasons.” Others included the intervention of “outside influences” in the PA; professional differences between the PA and the PMA; and the appointment of Muhammad Manasra as deputy PMA governor without a;-Shawwa’s agreement (Felesteen, January 6, 2021, Sama, Amad, January 3, 2021; the Chinese news agency Xinhua in English, January 4, 2021).
One of the reasons proposed for al-Shawwa’s resignation, which in ITIC assessment may be the main reason, was his objection to the measures taken by the PA and the banks in Judea and Samaria following the order given by the Commander of the IDF Central Command. The measures included closing the accounts of prisoners and families of shaheeds and promoting the establishment of an independent government bank to handle such accounts. The rapid appointment of Dr. Feras Milhem to replace al-Shawwa could indicate that at this stage Mahmoud Abbas has successfully overcome the economic (and possibly political) objections to PA solutions for making the payments.
January 21, 2021, published by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Cente