Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas Reuters

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has fired all of his advisers, his office said Monday,
amid a financial crisis that has prompted deep salary cuts.

Abbas's office did not provide further details on the number of advisers or the costs involved, pointing only to a brief statement issued through official PA 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.

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, and Israel says that encourages further violence.

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. 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

On top of the tax dispute, the United States has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the PA via various programs.

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."