Tensions are mounting in the Palestinian Authority ahead of a reshuffling of its security brass as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is adamant to replace Tawfik Tirawi, head of the PA General Intelligence Service in the West Bank, and Diab al-Ali, commander of the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.
A senior Palestinian security official told Ynet on Tuesday that in one month's time Tirawi will step aside for his deputy.
According to the source, Tirawi, who has emerged as one of the most powerful figures in the PA, will be appointed Abbas' special advisor on security affairs.
He will also be promoted to the rank of minister, the source said, adding that the promotion demonstrates Abbas' interest in continuing to draw from Tirawi's proficiency.
Tirawi's tenure as head of intelligence was previously extended by an additional year, despite the fact that he had reached the PA's age of retirement.
The personnel changes were the source of considerable tensions after Arab media reported Hamas was demanding the dismissal of several PA officers, including Tirawi and al-Ali, as part of the ongoing negotiations with rival faction Fatah. The PA was concerned the changes would be perceived as capitulation to Hamas.
However Tirawi's associates insist that reports of his dismissal were put forward by Hamas in an attempt to stir dissension among the PA's ranks. The associates further said that Tirawi would stay on till the end of his official term, and only after would he consider other ventures.
Due to the tensions that have arisen, Abbas spent the evening hours holding a number of meetings. The Palestinian president had considered extending Tirawi's term by another year. In regards to al-Ali, Abbas has already made his final decision.
It is unclear at present time if the changes will have an impact on the security coordination between the Palestinians and Israel. The matter will likely be particularly relevant due to concerns of an unstable West Bank following Abbas' expected resignation in early 2009.