Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority has appointed a Hamas-affiliated official as deputy minister of education, drawing criticism from a top Fatah leader in the West Bank. The decision to appoint Dr. Basri Saleh Smoudi was approved by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Dr. Smoudi, who hails from Jenin, served until recently in a senior position in the Ministry of Education’s department for planning and development.
PA Minister of Education Sabri Saidam and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah both recommended to the PA president that Dr. Smoudi be promoted to deputy minister.
Shortly after the appointment was announced, Tawfik Tirawi, a senior Fatah official and former head of the PA’s General Intelligence Force in the West Bank, claimed that Dr. Smoudi was affiliated with Hamas.
Tirawi called for the immediate resignation of the minister of education, holding him responsible for the appointment.
According to Tirawi, Dr. Smoudi previously worked with Nasser Eddin al-Shaer, who served as minister of education in the Hamas government about a decade ago. Tirawi said that Dr. Smoudi had previously worked against Fatah members, but did not elaborate.
Tirawi criticized the minister of education for “embracing” Hamas supporters while “neglecting” those who belong to Fatah.
Tirawi claimed that Abbas has decided to suspend Smoudi’s appointment following protests by Fatah officials and activists in the West Bank. The minister of education rejected the criticism, saying he has full confidence in his newly appointed deputy.
Fatah activists in Jenin also dismissed as “unacceptable and unjustified” Tirawi’s opposition to the appointment. The activists called on Abbas to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the “despicable charges and rumors” against Dr. Smoudi and hold those responsible accountable.